As I ponder how I will put this article together, I find myself thinking about James Taylor singing about the bleak midwinter and realize we are in the midst of it. The excitement of the holidays has passed and the next holiday may be several months away for many of us. Fortunately, I have a window, but as I look out, I am staring at hardwood trees with bare branches, and through those branches, there is nothing but gray sky.
It has been that way for days, maybe weeks and I find myself wishing for sunshine and ocean breezes. The wisdom I have garnered with age is that winter passes quickly, and if I stay occupied, I am not thinking about the barrenness all around but of what I can do to make a difference so that I keep my joy within. As a native southerner, I find this to be an odd winter. In January, we observed two full moons, and we won’t see one at all in February. I got to experience four snow days in January, and since there is not a way to make them up, I have learned not to stress about what I missed but to treasure those days as gifts.
Rotary Club of Lawrenceville meets on Mondays at noon at Garden Plaza. Most weeks we are learning about organizations in Gwinnett County that are serving the needs of our community. We kicked the new year off with Howard Smith, President of the Harlem Globetrotters, who came to share some of their 92-year history with our club. Owned by Herschend Enterprises, and headquartered in Gwinnett County, the Harlem Globetrotters can attribute some of their success to their high ethical standards. Being a Harlem Globetrotter means a person is a gifted athlete, lives up to a high moral code, and enjoys entertaining people. This combination of factors has allowed them to play for popes, kings, queens, and presidents. If you are interested in seeing them, tickets are available for games at the Infinite Energy Center on March 3, 2018.
Another guest speaker to our Rotary club was Senior, Danny Mei, at Mill Creek High School. He is the Co-President of Interact, a Rotary-sponsored club at the high school level to introduce Rotary service to young people. Danny’s parents immigrated from Vietnam and hoped for a better future for their children. Danny explained that Interact changed his life and he is now giving back because the help from others has been so important to him. He is specifically raising money to provide meals for children in need. If you wish to help, you may visit our Rotary Club of Lawrenceville Facebook page, and we will get you in touch with him.
Chuck Warbington, the City Manager of Lawrenceville, spoke to our club about major changes being made in Lawrenceville. The City of Lawrenceville has voted to spend millions of dollars on renovations, housing, road changes, and in developing a linear park between Georgia Gwinnett College and the downtown area.
We ended January with a tour of the Gwinnett County Jail and specifically, the Jail Dog Program. This program matches a dog from animal control with an inmate who has applied for and been accepted into the program. The dog stays with the inmate around the clock and is taught basic commands and socialization. The dogs who have completed the program are available for adoption into good families. This is a program that can make a difference for the inmates and the animals. The dogs would have been euthanized if they had not been accepted into the program. Many times, the inmates have an opportunity to make something positive occur as a result of a very negative event in their life. We all experience bad things, but if we can figure out a way to find something positive, it lessens the negative impact on our lives and the lives of others. The Jail Dog program is a win-win for everyone involved.
Throughout the writing of this article, I have paused to look out my window through the branches of hardwood trees that look dead, but I know are just waiting for spring when we will see green shoots and new buds of life. This time, there is a beautiful, bright red cardinal sitting on one of those bare branches and his beauty is even more noticeable because of all of the gray surrounding him. It is like looking at a black and white picture with that one bit of color in it that makes it pop. I will take it as one of the many gifts I continually receive if I can keep my thoughts on the many positives awaiting even during the bleak times.
Leigh is a proud Rotarian and CEO of Creative Enterprises, Inc., a not for profit, training, and employment, community rehabilitation program for people with disabilities. A lifelong resident of Gwinnett County, Leigh divides her time between advocating for people with disabilities, encouraging her children, grandchildren, and friends, helping her doTerra essential oil customers, traveling and focusing on her spiritual journey to appreciate how we are all connected.