I have heard that the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity is mindset. A situation viewed as an obstacle to one person might be viewed as an opportunity to another.
Last month, I was visiting a Dive Into Reading location. Dive into Reading is a summer initiative of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar Restaurant chain in partnership with Title 1 elementary school students. The first to third graders participating in this initiative have all tested to be reading significantly below grade level. Dive into Reading provides a hot breakfast, one-to-one mentoring in reading, and books and other resources for the children.
During my visit, I looked around the room in awe. Each one of the mentors chose to set aside a couple of hours every Wednesday morning in June to mentor a child. The passion and commitment of these volunteers filled my heart.
My attention drew to one remarkable lady named Heidi. She, like all the other mentors, had heard about the importance of summer learning. By choosing to be a part of Dive into Reading, she was doing her part to help stop the summer slide and help close the achievement gap. Heidi was willing to make a difference by mentoring a young boy named Charlie.
I first noticed Heidi because she brought a dog to the restaurant. I also noticed the walker she needed to navigate the space. Heidi has physical challenges that never got in the way of getting to the Anna Maria Oyster Bar to be Charlie’s mentor. She woke up early every Wednesday to pack up herself and her service dog, Holly. She then grabbed her walker, and the two of them walked from her home to the bus stop. Heidi and Holly took two different busses and then crossed a very busy road to get to the restaurant in time to greet Charlie upon his arrival. Holly didn’t let anything stand in the way of her opportunity to make a difference for Charlie.
Heidi’s dedication is remarkable. The opportunity to help Charlie outweighed every obstacle she encountered. I admire Heidi’s ability to focus on the opportunity rather than focusing on the obstacles. Heidi not only mentored Charlie, but the example she sets feels a little “life mentoring” for all of us.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” — Thomas Alva Edison