Don’t Allow Yourself to Lose Your Optimism About Life

Filed in Living by on July 2, 2016 2 Comments

Optimism About Life 1I am older now and so have sometimes found myself becoming jaded about life. Especially after having been in the business world for so long, there is a tendency to become cynical about the world and people’s motives.

Fortunately, I had a recent experience that rejuvenated me and gave me a renewed sense of the world’s potential and goodness.

I volunteer at an organization in Naples called The Immokalee Foundation. It serves children in a poor, migrant community about an hour from where we live. It provides certain of these children with college scholarships. Kids in the 7th – 11th grades can apply for entrance into the selective program. Once they qualify for admission, they need to meet the program’s criteria throughout their schooling until they graduate from high school. The standards include maintaining a 2.5 GPA, staying drug and crime free, volunteering in the community, and certain other criteria. Once they have successfully completed the program, they are granted a four year scholarship to any Florida university, college or vocational program. It’s a great way for kids to be able to attend college who would otherwise not have the means, fully paid for by the state.

One of the requirements is that the kids have an adult mentor who acts as a role model and meets with them once per week. I participate in the program as a mentor to one of the students. Since these children live in a community made up primarily of low income migrant workers, most of the adults work in the nearby fields, picking tomatoes and other produce. As such, the kids do not generally have role models who can help them set academic goals, choose the right high school courses, evaluate colleges, apply for financial aid, etc. The mentors help their student with these tasks and are also encouraged to educate them about what it takes to be successful in college and the professional work world.

I have been mentoring for three years, and I always apply myself and do a good job, but I can’t say I have felt really emotionally invested in it. I had been sort of just going through the motions, until a recent experience changed all that.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual Induction Ceremony for new entrants into the program. Fifty-three students were being honored for being accepted into the program. I decided to go to the ceremony since my current mentee is graduating and I need to be paired with a new student.

What I hadn’t expected is how moved I would be by the whole thing. As I sat in the auditorium, I noticed as the proud parents of the new inductees walked in with their children. The parents were beaming, and for the special occasion many of the boys wore a suit and tie and the girls had on nice dresses. When each child was called up to accept their certificate of entrance into the program, the parents clapped wildly. A former program participant who is now in college spoke to the audience about the life-changing nature of the program, and a parent got up and talked about how grateful he was that so many people were willing to sacrifice so that his bright and inquisitive young daughter could obtain a college education.

I was almost brought to tears. Maybe certain things in life are more special and important than I realized.

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

Comments (2)

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  1. Ed deMartin says:

    You are a very good man, Tim. However old you get, you’re headed for heaven.

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