I am not what I would consider a movie buff, not on the big screen at least. It could just be me, but many of the films that make it to the big screen, all seem to have at least one commonality; the previews give the story away or the highlight reel was the BEST part of the whole experience; regardless of the storyline. Sure there may be a few surprises, but even they are predictable. Lucky for me, I have more of an affinity to real life situations and scenarios than I do to Hollywood productions, otherwise, I could have very well missed an opportunity that has already been chalked full of surprises and far more enriching than I ever imagined.

When I invited members my circle – friends, family and colleagues – on this “journey” I had no clue as to where it would lead, I didn’t even fully understand all that would be required. All I knew was that serving in the capacity of Committee Advisor would afford me the opportunity to do a couple of things I love and that these things were what I have committed much of my life’s work to. I knew I would be modeling leadership (from behind in this instance), serving youth and helping them to develop personally by providing opportunities for them to arrive at the answer for what PFO believes are the two most important questions we can ever ask ourselves: “WHO AM I” and “HOW WILL I GIVE of THAT?”

Who knew that I would quickly have to expand my vocabulary due to the fact that AMAZING and AWESOME were already in overuse. I should have known something was up just by the fact that the core values were all “A” words. Whether it’s an Attitude of Gratitude and a reminder to ALWAYS be in a place of gratitude; be that with self and/or with others, Acceptance of those who look, think and act differently than we do because we are all deserving of love and all have a right to belong, Accountability to others and to ourselves in ways great and small and Action – that requires us to move from a human being to human doing when we are inspired to bring about change in our own lives and in our community.

They say home is where the heart is and while I miss my immediate family in Kansas, having a heart to do the work that I believe is among the most meaningful and impactful, and the type of work that I have done for years, you can likely understand when I say this that this is the first “job” opportunity that makes me feel at home.

In getting to know the youth I serve, I have met hidden talents of dancers, singers, writers, and designers. I have met courage to live a life that is authentic, even when it’s not popular or pleasing. I have met strength in a survivor who has had almost as many surgeries as I have and is less than 16 years old. I have met friendship and camaraderie among colleagues, which I haven’t felt in years. I have met direction and redirection as youth identify where they are going, and willingly assume the responsibility to help others find their way back to self. I have met anxiety in many (myself included) who had no idea what to expect, but ALL are excited to be on this journey together, and I’ve seen that anxiety be lessened as a result of what is taking place. I have met, hope, acceptance and love and I have been inspired, challenged, encouraged and expanded – and it’s only been 2 months.

I thank Soror Brandi Edwards (former advisor turned Board Chair) for thinking of me to take part in this life changing endeavor. I thank Jen Band (founder and visionary leader) for daring to bring her vision to life and for taking the LEAP. I thank EACH and every dedicated member of the PFO team for providing us with the tools and support we need to be successful, and for pouring into us in weekly coaching calls. And last but not least, I thank YOU, individually and collectively, for agreeing to take this journey with me. I don’t take it for granted.

In gratitude
Melanie