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Happy Thanksgiving!

“Programs don’t change people, relationships do…”

“Our mission at CIS Wake is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.” Adults who cared made the difference in my life and it was up to me to listen to their words and receive their seeds of wisdom in my heart.
It was a little league basketball coach, Herman Hinton and my high school coach Preston McClain who taught me I could fly like a falcon and soar to new heights as an eagle in life as a leader on and off the court.
It was my elementary school teacher, Cynthia Sanders who inspired me to dream big dreams; and,
It was a local media professional, Cash Michaels, who played basketball with me at the local recreation center, where I first imagined that I, too, could work in media.
The seed of our faith in the next generation and hope for a better tomorrow must be sown today. Now faith (our belief in action) is the substance or stuff of things we hope for (our dreams) and evidence of what we have not yet seen (come to pass yet). The evidence that we believe in what we have not yet obtained is in what we do and how we think every day. Success and achievement begin with the way we think each day.

Our minds are like soil or fertile ground. Our thoughts are seeds and every seed (or thought) of disadvantage has an equivalent seed (or thought) of advantage. Whatever we put into our minds will grow. Think we can, think we can’t, either way, we are right. If we put an apple seed in fertile ground, an apple tree will grow. If we put an orange seed in fertile ground an orange tree will grow.

Adversity is a weed that tries to kill our seed that carries our vision and our hope for the future. Like a farmer our job is to plant the seed of hope in the next generation so that their deepest desires, most daring dreams and lofty aspirations are not dashed on the rocks of despair.

Like a farmer, we must water and fertilize their ground, their minds by speaking positive words. When people write them off and say that can’t do something, we must teach them to respond in faith by letting the words: “I can, I am and I will!” come bursting forth out of their mouths. We must teach them to keep those words in their hearts, by meditating, thinking, intending and planning on those words day and night.

Once we plant seeds of sacrifice and hope in the future leaders of tomorrow deep in their ground, in their hearts, the pressure of life will crack the hull or covering of that seed and roots of faith will form anchoring them in the courage of their convictions. As roots form, we will see the results of our labor while the seed begins to spout, grow and mature. Then the tree of success will yield the fruit of greatness for the next generation and manifest the promise of the future.

Gaylord Nelson, founder, Earth Day, says: “The ultimate test of a man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for the future generations whose words of thanks may not be heard.”

Every seed makes the ultimate sacrifice and gives the gift of life that keeps on giving. After every seed has been planted and its ground produces a fruit bearing tree, the cycle of success continues as the fruit is eaten or falls to the ground, where its seeds are planted enabling its ground to produce a field of trees.

I am grateful for the privilege of serving the students and parents of Wake County, as I owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who invested seeds of wisdom in my life. After graduating from Enloe High School (here in Raleigh), attending Morgan State University in Baltimore and spending 18 years as a media professional in Atlanta and Washington, DC, it was important for me to return home to my native Raleigh and do my part to give back to the future.

I do not take the hard work of our staff, board, volunteers, mentors, partners and donors for granted. I want to thank you all for helping us realize our collective vision to help schools remove the barriers that put students at risk of wasting their potential.

During this difficult time of strained relations in our nation, my daily prayer and unwavering hope is that we will turn to each other to work together to strengthen our communities by investing our time, talent, and treasure today in the future leaders of tomorrow.

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