Blog: 22 March 2013
When Michael Lovaglio, UrbanPromise Academy English teacher, passed along Carlos Garcia's personal statement, he described the essay as "spectacular." We couldn't agree more. The following are the two opening paragraphs from the UrbanPromise Academy senior's essay:
I love to train. When I am working the heavy bag it is not just my body sweating out physical toxins, but my mind too is sweating – shedding – out all of my daily stresses. Stress over how to provide for my family. Stress over whether or not to finally accept the dealer’s offer to begin to sell on my block. Stress over the murder of loved ones, and fear over who could be lost next. All of this weighs on me throughout the day, the choices, the anxiety. It is when I get to the gym, wrap my hands, put on the gloves, and begin to hit the bag that the added weight begins to trickle down. Though I am leaning into the bag with every hit, I feel taller than before I walked through the gym doors.
According to Mohammad Ali, one of the brightest and bravest American fighters both in and out of the ring, “Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside of them – a desire, a dream, a vision.” I love this quote because anyone can work out in the gym, but to be a champion takes leadership and hard, dripping, work. Champions feel the passion of our craft. What first started out as a seemingly implausible idea, maybe only a feeling, soon developed into a vision. My vision of being a champion has saved me, helping to shape me into a better, stronger, more reliable person – the person I am today.
"I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things." Mother Teresa of Calcutta
I used a sewing machine once in my life--with disastrous results! I was in a home economics class in junior high school. I'm sure I was there because I thought it would be an easy "A." But putting that nearly invisible thread through the even tinier eye of the needle took more patience than what was required of Job. And keeping my fingers from getting stuck took a level of dexterity that I quickly--and painfully--discovered I did not possess.
I've since repressed that memory. I hadn't thought about a sewing machine--or trying to sew my own clothes--until a few months ago. I received a letter from a friend, Helen Reichert, who had heard about the orphanage and school UrbanPromise sponsors in Malawi, Southeast Africa. Helen had an idea--one a little outside the box. "What if the girls in the orphanage could learn to sew, make clothes for themselves, and maybe even sell them to earn a little money?" she asked in her letter. "What do you think?"
To be honest, I didn’t know what to think (mostly because of my traumatic sewing experience in junior high). But I forwarded Ms. Reichert's letter to Gibozi, the director of the girls' orphanage. A week later I received his response: "I love the idea. Could your Ms. Helen raise some money so we could buy sewing machines for the girls?" That was all Helen needed to hear. She went into high gear and, within just a few weeks, she and her friends raised $2,600. That money helped purchase Singer sewing machines, bolts of brightly colored material, and, of course, a bunch of those dreaded needles. The wonderful result of Helen's innocent letter of inquiry? Ten orphaned girls have learned to make clothing! They've gained a lifelong skill and are now looking toward a brighter future.
That's what I love about the body of Christ. Each of us has unique interests and skills, different passions and personalities. We just need to see them as gifts to be offered back to God on behalf of others. Many of us underestimate the importance and potential of our talents. We dismiss them as insignificant, commonplace, and unworthy. But without accountants, boat-builders, tutors, readers, artists, engineers, students, nurses, dancers, singers, and good listeners, UrbanPromise--and the greater world--would not be a dynamic representation of Christ’s body.
Mother Teresa explained it much more eloquently: "I can do things you cannot do, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things."
I can't--and don't like to--sew. So what? I don't need to. Because there are several girls in Malawi who rejoice at the prospect of sewing. And it all happened because of a woman named Helen--a woman who likes to sew, had an idea, and acted on it. I'm sure you'd agree that's a great thing!
Dr. Bruce Main
President & Founder, UrbanPromise