Written on August 6, 2009 by admin
Yesterday’s event at the Citizen’s Business Bank Arena was deeply touching and fulfilling. The main speakers were Arel Moodie (http://www.arelmoodie.com), Luke Tipple (http://www.luketipple.com), and myself. The conference organizers were San Bernardino County’s Economic Development Agency and Workforce Development Department and they were one of the most committed and passionate teams we’ve ever worked with. Their energy was infectious.
Over 1,200 young people (14-24) from very difficult backgrounds were in attendance. Their stories of triumph were truly amazing. One attendee had lived in all 50 states with the foster care system and extended family. He was homeless from 12 years old on and even lived for a year and a half in his school parking lot without anyone knowing. However, despite these challenges, he graduated high school. Another attendee had lymphoma cancer that permanently damaged his face and eye site, yet he was extremely positive. Another teenager was a single mom who worked two jobs and aspired to start her own business. A large percentage of the attendees had experienced the death of loved ones. I could go on and on. These are stories you would never know about just judging someone by their appearance or behavior.
These stories are particularly touching, because the attendees didn’t choose to grow up where they did. For many, when they look around them, they see challenges and hardship. I think the biggest impact we made yesterday was giving inspiration, hope, and faith that taking small uncomfortable steps toward their dreams everyday could change their worlds completely over time.
This event was funded by stimulus money, and I think it was a very good use. The government team was very entrepreneurial and many of the attendees who have never left their communities had a completely new experience that will transform how they see the world.
After the event, Glenda Serrano (our awesome director of events), Arel, and I went to Santa Monica and Venice beaches.
I am grateful and appreciative.