We’ve all heard the famous quote by Fred Rogers that dances across our social media feeds whenever there is adversity or tragedy or upheaval in the world.
When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’
I’ve often found a great deal of comfort in these words and taken it to heart that I too, wanted to be one of the helpers in this world. Sometimes though, it’s hard for the helpers to know how exactly to help. That “stuck” feeling of wanting so much to be a part of the solution and NOT the problem can keep us standing still when what the world needs most is for us to be marching forward. It’s also hard not to notice the missteps of well-meaning people who are trying LEAD in arenas where they haven’t earned the scars to even step into. If you’re like me, you want to move forward and want to create positive change and want to do more than complain on facebook about what isn’t and instead start moving in the direction of what COULD and what SHOULD be. The good news, is there ARE leaders all around us who are making moves toward the world we all deserve. They’re leaving places more beautiful than they found them, they’re welcoming helpers like you and like me to partner, support, and help spread the word, and they’re right here in our local community. Here are a few world-changers that I’m taking cues from. Some exciting work being done that feels like being a part of the solution. I know there are so many more, so feel free to add your favorite world-changers in the comments or use YOUR influence for IMPACT by highlighting the world-changers that you are partnering with on your own feeds and in your own way. These friends are moving FORWARD with plans to make a difference in our communities in ways that build up and never tear down and we are here to STAN what they’re doing and we hope you will too!
T.J. Griffin & The Vision Program
We first met TJ at Lancaster Ted Talks and we became fast friends! The work he is doing to empower young people to make an impact in the world and to build a life of abundance is necessary and inspiring. We love that T.J. is living his message out and serving as an inspiration for young people to forge their own path to prosperity, innovation and purpose. Through his Vision Program curriculum centered around entrepreneurship, and motivational speaking and his mentorship in at-risk populations, T.J. is using his own success and life learning to empower future generations to find purpose-filled and fulfilling pathways out of poverty. We love how he sees the incredible potential in each young person and how he comes along side of them to help them realize it too, and equip them with the tools they need to reach their full capacity. Imagine the world if we empowered ALL of our young people to realize their dreams and potential?!?! World-Changing!
“There are two distinct languages. There is the verbal, which separates people… and there is the visual that is understood by everybody.” -Yaakov Agom
I’ve been following the work of Keisha Finnie on Instagram and around Lancaster for a while now, but recently her art has taken steps towards activism and stands as further evidence that art can often work its way into our hearts in ways that words can’t navigate. People across Lancaster have found solidarity, hope, introspection and connection around Keisha’s work and she deserves our support for the way she’s pouring her heart out on walls and canvas’ in the midst of of a global pandemic and a social justice uprising. She lives by the quote that she has tattoo’d on her skin “Live free, cherish life” and her passion and talent compel others to do the same. You can read more of my writing on Keisha’s story in the Fall issue of Fig Lancaster and you can purchase her artwork <<<<<HERE>>>> or contact her for commissioned work.
The Bridge acquires old properties like schools, malls, and warehouses, then turns them into “eco villages” in the inner city. Their properties are intended to be totally sustainable and self-contained mixed-use “Eco-Villages” with housing, commercial/retail space, co-working, urban agriculture, innovation/education center and entertainment. Their flagship property is currently being built in Allison Hill’s former Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg. What’s their now is an abandoned building in the middle of a food dessert and poverty-stricken community. What’s coming is going to change lives and change the face of the city in ways that fill me with hope and excitement. We are so humbled and proud to be partnering with The Bridge and helping them to share their story because OHMYGOODNESS it’s such a great story! It’s a story of beating the odds and coming out on top (all the way to NFL top) and then feeling compelled to come back and build a bridge of opportunity in the community that you came from. You WANT to partner with this work. There are partnership, support and volunteer opportunities, so check them out and #LetsBuild. You can follow more of the story on Instagram and Youtube and by watching this video we created for them. Full disclosure: the Bridge team is mostly made up of former Milton Hershey School Students (the school I have loved and served for over 15 years) and so, this team is family to me on that level and I could not be more proud to elevate their story with you!
Mustafa Nuur, Bridge Experiences & Xulbo Food
When I think of world changers, Mustafa always comes to my mind! We’ve covered many aspects of Mustafa’s story on our platform but one thing we haven’t tapped into yet is the absolute grace, patience, and love that this man exhibits while walking towards hard conversations, especially those about race and prejudice. I have never witnessed anyone who approaches racism and hatred with so much courage and compassion. He willingly walks into hard conversations and potentially hostile situations with an open heart to listen and to be heard. I am in awe of this every time. An educator through community, shared experiences, and delicious FOOD, Mustafa has built bridges between long-time Lancastrians and refugee families who are new to the area through hosted meals and conversations. In a post Covid world, you’ll be able to sign up for an experience and I can not recommend it highly enough! Social Justice and Racial inequality are arenas where I’m looking for leaders who lead with love instead of fear and I want to partner with and help those leaders. We’re excited and keeping our eyes on the Racial Healing experiences that are coming soon. In the meantime, you can experience world culture and support the work of this world-changer by visiting the Xulbo Food Stand on the roof at TellUs360. Fun fact: The Wild Precious Now Logo is hidden in the artwork at Xulbo. Take a picture with it and tag us on social media and we’ll send you a gift, because being a part of this community makes us giddy!
This is of course, in no way an exhaustive list. However, these are some ordinary people doing extraordinary things in service of others. We feel encouraged when we see the ways they show up with passion and truth with real world solutions to combat some of the problems in the world today. We feel inspired to follow their lead and empowered to follow their example! I hope you’re using YOUR influence for impact, looking for the helpers, partnering with the world changers and finding your place in making things better too!