“Opportunity”… Hmm, this is a word I often use to entice others or make a tedious task sound somewhat great. “Check out this opportunity to get some community service hours!”—a statement I frequently use when needing to transport large furniture to a family. “Dear, this opportunity may not ever come again,” a statement I may, on occasion, state to my husband when thinking of purchasing something on the larger scale. It really does have a nice ring to it. While I may use it to shine light onto thoughts or suggestions, the reality is opportunity is everywhere, depending on how you choose to see the world.
I’m so thankful that, in this past year, I’ve had the opportunity to advance in my career. I truly appreciate this opportunity. When I was nominated for the spotlight, I was a Family Support Specialist (FSS) for Say Yes Buffalo and Child & Family Services where I worked with at-risk youth and their families in the Buffalo Public Schools. Now, I supervise this position. As a FSS, I was blessed with the gift of service to families and children in many areas. While enjoyment abounds in this position, this job can also be full of fatigue, surprise, and emotions that go every which way. As a supervisor, of one of the best teams in the world I’d really like to add, I feel the weight that is on the team and do what I can to ease this, support them, and problem-solve alongside them when facing fatigue, surprises, and all the emotions.
Every Tuesday night, I work with students in grades 7-12 at a youth group from Riverside Baptist Church. There, I get the opportunity to relive my teenage years over and over again. I’ve seen—and felt— heartache, difficult home-lives, social fears, and trauma in many shapes and sizes. I’ve also seen—and felt—tons of love, abundant joy, and sincere hope. Opportunity appeared through leadership, games, mediation, sleepovers (with numerous morning teenage smells), heart-to-hearts, and so much more I cannot cover in one commentary.
Out of the youth group came opportunities for additional ministries and acts of service. TeensWant2Help and Beds4Buffalo came to fruition. The first involves weekly service projects including transporting donations to families in need, cooking for shut-ins, gardening for those that couldn’t, and neighborhood clean-ups—just to name a few. The second allows the opportunity to raise money to purchase beds for families that do not have them, which also includes pick-up and transportation of the beds. Both ministries require the need to rely on teens, accessing trucks as we do not own one, and time… tons and tons of time. Through involvement, the teens have been exposed to a variety of people from all different backgrounds, skill development, character building, and love.
Opportunity is everywhere. We cannot escape trials or tribulations. We certainly cannot escape the beauty and goodness around us—unless we truly want to escape beauty and goodness. If you have a shirt, lend it. If you have the time, give it. If you know something, share it. We all have the opportunity to experience just that—opportunity. Fear can only hold us back if we permit it. Opportunity really is everywhere.