At the beginning of the Newman’s Own Foundation Fellowship I felt “lucky”. It is something many of the Fellows have felt as well, and is even something Paul Newman himself believed in. However, throughout the year and my fellowship experience I have begun to change the way I feel about my “luck”.
My fellow Fellows, those at our host organizations, and even Paul Newman are not as lucky as we think. We can’t honestly attribute our success to luck, despite how convenient it may be. Our success and the success of those around us, stems solely from our passion to do the work that we do. My host organization, Our Piece of the Pie, which is a non-profit organization that aims to help urban youth become economically independent adults, has got to where it is today because of the drive from the passionate people who work here, and dedicate their time investing in the mission.
Most non-profits and foundations aim to lead and make change by removing barriers for the causes and populations that they serve. These barriers were built over years and years. Some were built because people let small issues drift aside, deeming them unimportant to the point where they snowballed into large scale issues. Others were constructed with purpose, intending to harm and put down some, while elevating others. These barriers take a lot more effort to tear down than that of what luck can bring. They take making sacrifices, working long hours, trusting others, and keeping an attitude that is so optimistic that others may frankly find it annoying. The one constant that allows people to continue to do these necessary things is their passion. Passion for the mission, passion for success, and passion for making the world a better place.
Luck may help someone shut their eyes, swing and get a base hit, or hit a jump shot, but luck can’t help an over aged and under credited youth graduate high school. Luck can’t help them be the first in their family to go to college, or even land a job that can support a whole family. That takes determination, and hard work fueled by passion. Once people allow their passion to guide them, setbacks, fear and outside detractors stay outside, and allow better and stronger pathways to form. So, as corny as it may sound, following your heart and your passions really do pay off.
As for my future, I aim to continue to follow my inner GPS, and will be taking on a City Year term in New York City this upcoming year. I hope to be able to help young people find the same spark as the one I have encountered throughout this fellowship process. I’m excited for the challenges ahead as much as I am the triumphs, and for the chance to continue to learn and grow within my new role.
By Chris Beckus – NOF Fellow at Our Piece of the Pie, Hartford, CT.