We are through the ’14-’15 PFO year and I wanted to share about my journey, what I’ve learned, and how PFO has impacted me. PFO has impacted me in so many different aspects of my life thus far. Not only has it given me a lot more friends throughout my journey, it has also provided me with a safe space where I can grow and develop into an amazing individual and a leader. This year, in my personal opinion, I have grown as a leader the most. Last year was my first year of PFO as a new teen and I was so grateful to have the opportunity to be part of such an amazing organization, knowing how great it was through my brother, who was already a teen in PFO. In that one year, I learned so much and I couldn’t wait for the next PFO season to come. I didn’t even think that it could be any better. However, after being inspired by my brother, my Co-Chairs (Sonia and Evey), and a countless amount of wonderful peers around me, I wanted to become more of a leader for myself and to inspire others. So, I decided to apply for leadership and I am so glad and proud of myself that I did. I applied for a Co-Chair leadership position, where you and another Co-Chair help to lead a committee in creating a PFO product, and soon after, I learned that I got in and I was absolutely ecstatic! I was so ready for the Co-Chair Retreat. There, I learned about a plethora of things such as, how to lead by example by showing and not telling and how to grow as an individual into the leader that I want to become, not what anyone else wants me to be. During this Co-Chair Retreat, I also learned that I was going to be a Co-Chair for the Photography Committee alongside my other Co-Chair, Maddie, and my wonderful committee advisor, Brandy. At first, I had doubted my leadership abilities and I wasn’t sure I could lead a group of teens to create a book. Throughout the year, however, everything that I wanted to happen in my committee did and I was so proud of all of us for the hard work that we had done in the time that spanned 8 committee meetings. This year, I also learned how to include others more and a variety of things from the Lifetalks put on by the Small Group Leaders from this year. These Lifetalks at every committee meeting have taught me so much. Some of these topics were, you’re past doesn’t define you, whether you accept or reject good or bad thoughts is up to you, the science of gratitude, etc. This year, I’ve taken so much more from leadership and these Lifetalks into my life outside of PFO, being more inclusive, open, and just a better leader in my opinion. Overall, I’ve had such a great year with PFO and can’t wait for next year!

In gratitude, Derek