Last Friday, returned to me, was a framed calligraphy of a poem I wrote nearly 25 years ago. It was a gift from a young woman whose name is sadly forgotten but whose story is not.
I was leaving as Director of the Volunteer program under which the Exchange Club Parent/Child Center ran. The Parent/Child Center matched trained volunteers with parents, usually single mothers, who were identified as "at risk" of child abuse or neglect. The volunteers became mentors and advocates, aiding these young parents in working through the system and working their way past the issues causing such risk. It was an amazing program. In the short time I was involved there were great stresses but there were also great joys. This young woman and her mentor were great inspirations. I remember the volunteer's name - Barb Nash. She was a most dedicated volunteer and saw this young woman's potential. She was an advocate, a surrogate mom and a cheerleader.
Each Parent/Child Center volunteer promised two years of service. Barb's parent was less than 20 years old and had 5 children to 5 father's as I recall. At the beginning of the program she had little hope and little vision for the future. With Barb's coaching, the young woman began to see her own potential. When this young woman did this calligraphy for me, she was nearly completing an associates degree at a community college and about to become a Parent/Child Center Volunteer herself.
Barb was this poem's voice - the one who said....
"The Little Thorny Plant That Became - by Linda Henderson
Once there was a little thorny plant that was scorned and mistreated. Nearby plants threw dirt on it, ignored it or said mean things to it. The little thorny plant grew weak and droopy.
One day a kind soul passed by. "Why are you so sad?" The kind voice asked. "I am just a worthless, thorny plant," the little one said. "Pay no attention to me."
"Oh No," the kind voice said, "Inside you hold great beauty."
But the little thorny plant did not believe. So, the kind voice returned each day carrying water, nurturing the soil and speaking softly of the great beauty inside.
After a while the thorny plant began to feel different. It stood stronger and taller. Then one day there was great excitement in the kind voice.
"Look! Look!" the kind voice said and pointed to the little plant's reflection.
The little thorny plant could hardly believe it's eyes. Right up top, a hundred times bigger than any thorn, was a beautiful white rose. A feeling of great peace came over the little plant. Though the thorns were still there, it did not matter. Now the little plant knew, inside all along, was a rose just waiting to bloom."
Looking at the calligraphy, I know the young woman's initials were KEH. Somehow I know in my soul, she is continuing to do good things. I am thankful to look at this poem she made for me!