**UPDATE: We're back it again. Join us to volunteer this summer, July 10th, 2019. For more information click here.**
For the second consecutive year, 3rd Wind Network volunteered to participate in the Summer Reading Buddies program hosted by JCY-Westchester Community Partners at the Yonkers Riverfront Public Library. For us, this is a great opportunity to bond with others, perform community service and constructively give of our time helping the leaders of tomorrow get the leg up they need to succeed academically. What we got back was even greater.
I met a young man named Chris who was going into the 3rd grade. He has 2 sisters and a nephew, wants to learn to play the guitar and become a police officer when he grows up. Together we read "Igor Stravinsky: Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers" by Mike Venezia. I'm not quite sure if he picked the book himself since he sat down next to me, book in hand, but my goodness, was it a doozy! It was about a Russian composer from the early 20th century filled with difficult to pronounce Russian names and terminology related to classical music and opera.
Chris' excitement to be there was palpable. He was fidgety, like most 8.5 year olds are, but he focused on the reading, making sure to take his time pronouncing multisyllabic words that neither he nor I had ever seen before and discussing the context of the book with me. There was a light emanating from within him as well as the other kids present at the program today. A genuine excitement to be there. A thirst for knowledge. A desire to read and consume as much information as possible. As I worked with him I realized, how critical the light was. The light is what makes children seem so jovial and invincible and is the single active ingredient of the fountain of youth.
The light makes the possibilities outshine the obstacles. Of course, Chris could not get through every word without assistance, but he kept plugging away, not deterred by his imperfections. He prioritized the lessons being learned over the mistakes being made. The light makes it possible to reflect on what matters most. Chris wasn't consumed with the time it took to complete the 32-page story, nor about the other children in the room and what they were reading. He enthusiastically forged forward, powering through the pages, elated by what might be shared around the turn of a page. The light infects others, allowing them to brighten theirs as well. Being around him restored my humanity, lifted my spirit and filled my proverbial life cup. He didn't intend for that to happen, but it did nonetheless.
To be truly ageless (as opposed to anti-aging) you need to keep fanning the flames that let that little light of yours shine. Nurture that light by remaining hungry for learning, growing and connecting. Bathing in the glory of that light will allow you to flood all the spaces you enter with it and filter out the things that might interfere with said brightness.
Keep shining 3rd Wind Networkers!