: an award or special praise given to someone who has done something extremely well but who has not won any of the official prizes
While there are many things on my heart to discuss, I wanted to begin my first official blog post by bestowing honorable mention upon a man whose consistent love, sacrifice, and encouragement, redirected the trajectory of my life. I want to bestow honor because our society lacks an award for men and women who selflessly give of themselves on a daily basis to present youth in our under resourced communities with hope. Mentors. It is prevalent for social media feeds to be filled with stories of men and women who demean our young people and remind them of the barriers in their way to success. I am deeply grateful that my life’s story reads the direct opposite of most from my neck of the woods. Chip changed me.
Chip, as he was affectionately called, was my mentor as a young person (5th grade and beyond) growing up in a high poverty and crime neighborhood. He loved God, but I didn’t know that immediately. He loved people, but I didn’t know that immediately. Chip loved solving problems and thinking deeply and I would eventually love the same things. The only thing I knew about Chip was that he worked at the P.A.L. (Police Athletic League) Center in our neighborhood and I assumed he was just like most workers there, only there for a job. I was so very wrong. Chip loved Jesus and because of his love for Christ, he extended himself in ways that I’m sure were uncomfortable and inconvenient at times. The idea that anyone would sacrifice anything to be a blessing to me and my family was foreign.
As we fast forward more than 20 years later, Chip, although you are no longer living here on the earth, your legacy lives within me daily. My story is your storyand it’s forever intertwined for God’s glory. I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior at an early age because of the practical, consistent, imperfect example I saw in you as a young Christian. I became the first in my family to attend college because you told me college was really possible and encouraged me to be excellent in school. I became an electrical engineer because you allowed me to tinker with computers you were assembling. I will never forget the curiosity that was unlocked the moment you allowed me to learn with the very real possibility that I might fail. I was so afraid to fail, but you lovingly challenged me to think through possible solutions.
You were at the memorial service of my natural father who died due to his battle with drugs and alcohol addiction at the tender age of 34. I never heard you speak ill of my father. As a 16 year old I did not know the gaping hole that would be left due to the lack of my father’s presence. But God knew and he gave me you. And you gave me your family (your mom and dad) who welcomed me in as an extended member. I weep as I write this because I wish you could see me now. I wish you could see me share my story weekly with other believers who have decided to mentor at-risk youth in Cincinnati. Almost every day I am granted the opportunity to honor YOU and share with others how your love and that of your family changed my life.
The world can not honor what it does not value. And unfortunately our value system is whack. But may you know that I honor you and every mentor that has decided to live for something greater than themselves. I am proud to be a part of your legacy. I hope I’ve made you proud. Thank you for loving this broken little girl who always had aspirations of being number one, but didn’t always believe that life could be any different. Today life is different and it is good.
A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold. – Proverbs 22:1 (NASB)