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He Came Wearing Flip Flops

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Katy Rees

A boy, just slightly younger than me, shyly entered the Boardroom with a crock-pot full of chilly and a plate full of corn bread. He and his comrades graciously cooked the meal for us. After recognizing the welcoming atmosphere with a few friendly smiles and words from the Board, instant ease and confidence radiated from his expression.  As he proceeded to exit, I noticed two flip-flops slapping at his heels.

The Board I speak of is Griffith Centers for Children, CHINS UP.  Having recently joined the Board you can only imagine the excitement, and yet overwhelming feeling of anticipation, I experienced as I waited to receive a laundry list of expectations and roles.

The Center was established with the vision to provide residence and education to at risk youth, specifically males, in order to provide them a chance to live productive lives in society.  Since its inception, the Center has morphed into an all-encompassing non-profit organization specializing in providing a full continuum of therapeutic treatment and academic services for boys and girls, and families.

As we toured the facilities, I felt as though I walked the halls of my freshman dorm and cafeteria.  Incredible that the children, younger than college students, were living this experience, yet the circumstances were unreal and challenging. Guided by mentors, , the children are pushed to succeed to build a life for themselves.

As I drove away, thankful for time to process the recent drink from the fire hose, I gathered my thoughts.  No longer was I caught up in the ideas of fundraising and capacity building, rather I was solely thinking about the unique opportunity I had to interact with individuals so grateful for a second chance. I remembered the importance of philanthropy.  I remembered why philanthropy is so near and dear to my heart. I remembered the boy who came to the meeting with a full meal for a Board that has given him so much in return.

It is organizations like this where people often come wearing flip flops, but will leave wearing dress shoes.