Hopebeat Weekly: June 20, 2023

Reflections on Juneteenth

Last week I had lunch with my partner Scott, his dad, and a colleague who mentioned Bright Star Community Organization, and suggested I get in touch with Pastor Chris Harris. One thing led to another, and I found myself at his church on Sunday, at coffee with him by 4 pm, and at a grand opening of his ‘Hub of Hope’ in Chicago yesterday, celebrating Juneteenth in Bronzeville, a local community in Chicago. 

It was a powerful event, with leaders including our new Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, University of Chicago Medicine President Thomas Jackiewitz, United States Senator Dick Durbin, and Million Dollar Turn Center donor Steve Sarowitz, to name a few. They encouraged us to stop letting violence be the norm, to support our kids, to work together, and to address the many needs of our communities around Chicago.

It was a call to wake up and take action. It was a reminder to not let the past dictate our future. It was a vision for a better future for our city fueled by positive feelings and inspired actions. The Hub of Hope is not built on hope as a wish, but hope as a verb. And I’m all in on this call.

Turns out my business partner Scott knew a number of the folks, old and new connections were made, and our work on teaching the ‘how’ to hope has planted seeds sure to grow in this great city of Chicago.

I’m so proud of this city, and the work we are doing to honor this important day. It would be so easy to give up all hope, as that is what cycles of oppression do to us. They teach us hopelessness, where we just give up on making change, and stop our work to make a difference, as opposed to using that despair as fuel for change to take inspired actions where we have our locus of control. It’s not easy, yet necessary.

People have criticized the work I do to teach individuals the ‘how’ to hope, as they want the systems to change. I tell them I agree, I want the systems to change, too. Yet if I wait for the systems to change, and don’t provide all tools I know can help individuals manage the despair and helplessness (two ingredients of hopelessness) in healthier ways so they can step out of cycles of violence and addiction, where does that get us? It is not an either-or, it is a both.

And this day was a powerful reminder to show up. To keep doing the work. To keep sharing the tools and working together to create the communities we want to see. It was a reminder that our kids need all of us working together, each bringing our piece of the puzzle to solve these complex challenges.

I was reminded to follow the signs the universe provides. To not let a moment of frustration or people’s opinions of me ruin a calling I feel deep beyond anything I can articulate. To stay in my lane, let others work to change systems that are full of discrimination while helping where I can, and know there is room for all of us.

I loved what one of the speakers shared, the African proverb:

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a small, closed room with a mosquito.

So I challenge you, no matter how small or insignificant you might feel in your own work, don’t stop showing up as you feel called to make a difference. As we all matter. And no matter what life brings, never forget to…

Keep Shining Hope



Ps. We were just featured in Motherly, with some skills to teach a child how to hope. If you know any moms, please be sure to pass along.

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