I recently had the opportunity to attend the Annual Breakfast for the Urban League of Broward County. Sitting in the large, beautifully decorated meeting room, it was a privilege to share tables and time with some of South Florida’s most notable business leaders and accomplished professionals. Adding to the dignified ambience of the event were the young adult members of the Urban League’s youth programs adorned in their crisp red button-up shirts. Scanning the room, it was clear that there was a distinct energy and palpable positivity that hovered over the gathering.
As Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh, President and CEO of the venerable organization took to the podium, her voice resonated with confidence and her words told the story of what it takes to really make a change in our community.
From foot races on the asphalt streets of urban America to racing bicycles on the dirt roads of rural counties, we have all been accustomed to the customary start language: Ready, Set, Go! As I listened to the message of Dr. Smith-Baugh it became clear that these instructions might be applicable when it comes to sports, but must be redefined when it comes to saving our communities.
In a steady cadence, Dr. Smith-Baugh reversed the order and stressed the difference: “Go, Set, Ready.” It seemed odd to hear it the first time, but isn’t that how change is? Uncomfortable in its initial stages because you have been so comfortable with the way things have been, but the more you adapt, the more you realize that sometimes change is not only better, but necessary.
The new rallying cry for the Urban League was articulated by its esteemed leader as a reminder that we often wait too long to be ready for making the changes that we need. We sometimes are looking to be set, before we take much needed steps forward. By the time we actually make it to “Go,” we have often compromised results and delayed the progress we were initially seeking.
Too often our most challenged communities suffer from an apathy that reduces action to reaction. Though we know that the quality of education that our children receive often dictates what they will achieve in life, I still hear many of our teachers lament about the lack of attendance at parent-teacher conferences. Though the penitentiary and cemetery have claimed far too many of our young people, I still see elementary and middle school aged children running our streets at all hours of the night with no parental supervision in sight. Though we have organizations like the Urban League of Broward County initiating programs designed to “Break the Cycle” of poverty, how many families in need will actually get involved and benefit from the available resources to help them elevate from poverty to financial stability?
The time to “Go” is now. What are we waiting for? A proactive agenda is what we will need to assert real change in our communities. If we always wait to be ready and set before we get going, we perpetuate a reactionary mentality which often leaves us behind in the race.
As we find ourselves still relatively fresh into 2015, we need to make sure that we focus on a new directive for change: Go and take action to help yourself and your community. Once you have set the groundwork with your actions, be ready to show others how to do the same.
Richard McCulloch is a Marketing Executive specializing in Higher Education and Not-for-Profit Marketing. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.