The Guidance Center of Westchester "offers essential and lasting support to those challenged by mental illness, substance abuse, poverty, and homelessness. " Their mission is to "empower our participants to become active members of their community through education, treatment, housing and vocational services." As a New Rochelle High School Alumni it has always meant the world to me to be able to contribute to the betterment of my community in whichever capacity I could.
When my fellow alum Daniel Bonnet, Director of Center for Colleges and Careers reached out to me to see if my schedule would permit my participation as the Host of the Annual Back 2 School Bash, it became top priority. Daniel has been such a staple in the community. He continues to strive for the betterment of people as well as being an exceptional example of how we all can make a difference. He is truly an inspiration and I feel fortunate to call him a friend.
The annual event took place at the Davenport Mansion in our hometown of New Rochelle, NY. I enjoyed hearing the amazing stories from students who The Guidance Center of Westchester has given a new outlook on life and a bright future to strive for. We all can give a little. Whether it is time, money, hope, or inspiration there are ways for us to positively effect the lives of those who seek ways for self-improvement. I encourage you all to think about how you can pay it forward in your own communities. Sometimes the smallest gestures can lead to the greatest results.
Check out ALL the pictures from this amazing event: HERE
If you want to find how you can get involved contact www.theguidancecenter.org
Fisher College has become one of my favorite colleges to visit over the years. In the past 2 years I've been invited to speak at Fisher 3 times, and each time I grow more affection for the students, faculty and overall mission of the school. It's always an honor to be able to take part in their freshman orientation for "Welcome Week".
Our relationship began on the Decision 2016 Tour where I spoke on the topic of voter awareness. I was then asked to return that year to speak at their freshman orientation and it has been an honor since.
I like to say I prepare with a message for my talks but not rehearse. I let the topic come natural through my daily awareness and evolution. This years topic was based around opportunity.
It struck me that week how so much of who we are and what we become is based off opportunities we squander or take advantage of. The key awareness of recognizing your opportunity as a direct link of your particular set of circumstances can be eye opening for many. The earlier we recognize our opportunities based on the advantages and disadvantages that some of those most closest to us bear witness to, can help use gather an internal jolt of pride to honor the ones before us who have paved the way for the opportunities that are upon us.
I guess for me immirgating here with teenage parents and knowing the story of those who have made opportunities for others through selfless sacrifice has always made me want to capitalize on the opportunities those generations made for me to get here.
For some college is no big deal. They come from generations of scholars and have been in America all their lives. For others, the opportunity in itself to go to college is a big deal for them and their family. It was a big deal for me and I recognized it was because it was bigger than me. People had put their life on the line to give me this shot and I was gonna do something about it.
We all have cousins, brothers, sisters, friends who for whatever reason or at many times, out of their control never receive the opportunity for progressive direction. There are also those who with all the essentials tools manage to under achieve.
By realizing your opportunity for what it is can give you the persistence you need to shine through your circumstances.
We talked about how to create your opportunites through networking and your sphere of influence a.k.a "the company you keep". How many of us can say we have not prospered from relationships from those in positions elevate us in one shape or form?
As I looked at the attentiveness of the students, I saw a look in their eyes that told me my words were resognating in a very personal way.
Our Q/A session that followed was hard but fun. Hard because these "kids" hit me with some tough, intelligent questions! A few times I had to double check to make sure I was speaking with freshman. The fun part of this comes from the students willingness to open up and share a bit of themselves. No questions go unanswered.
As we left parting ways with hugs and handshakes I couldnt help but be reminded of my own mindset as a freshman. I was scared, excited, hopeful and determined. Being scared came from the not knowing what to expect. My excitement came from all the people to meet, and new things to experience. I was very hopeful for the future that played ahead of me, I was now a college student! The determination would carry me those next 4 years making use of every opportunity college had to offer.
I can only hope leaving there that afternoon, they felt the same way I did as a freshman.
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If you're a big believer that everything happens for a reason this is for you. If you're not, this is for you too.
The other day I was reading "Steal Like An Artist" by Austin Kleon (a fabulous book for the creative mind) I came across a quote in the book that stuck with me.
This past year has been such a whirlwind for myself and some of the closest people to me that only connecting the dots backwards allowed us to see the things we at the moment of impact felt were happening to us, were actually happening for us. These things were happening for our progress, for our growth and for our future.
We all have things we can not explain at the surface occur which causes us to wonder why? Why this? Why now? Why me? Things that in our gut feel right, but in our current mind can not be explained.
What I have felt has always allowed me to get past any unexplained apprehension is trust.
To a lot of people (even myself) it was hard to understand my entry into songwriting and music in general. I had always had a love for music on a listener level but had never thought about it from the creating standpoint. I had all these people around me who were in one way or the other involved behind the scenes that I knew as personal friends outside of music. I picked up the pen figured I'd give writing a shot, with a goal of 1 placement. (this is a much longer story that I will get into another time)
When I wrote/produced "Leave With You" I pictured a male pop vocalist. I wanted to get into the hands of an artist at the top of their game in order to maximize the songs marketing potential. I pitched the song for over a year to any A&R, record Label or anyone for that matter who would listen, to no avail. When I decided to release it as a my own single, it took a lot. I was scared. I spent money I didn't have, and time I had no proof wouldn't be wasted on a song I just felt had to be heard. So with a shy, unknown vocalist, with little experience named Bryan Bautista, who I felt had something... I took a chance.
Fast forward 3 years later..
Bryan has gone on to do many great things for himself. He has grown as an individual and artist and I continue to root for him from the sideline. The attention he has gained through his own efforts has allowed "Leave With You" as his first featured Apple Music single to capture an audience it would have never gotten if I had never taken action. The song has been heard all around the world and is featured in the score of a upcoming film. At the time of conception neither one of us could of known what the future had in-store, but looking backwards, it all made sense.
When I tried out for Real World, I had tried out for what would of been the Key West and Sydney Season. That never happened. I was bummed both times. I had made it further and further in each of the separate audition processes. When I ended up making the The Hollywood season even at a shorten time, I was grateful. Not just for the opportunity, but for THAT opportunity. See the other seasons could of never given me a glimpse of a life in entertainment as Hollywood did. It put me in a space with people who would inspire me in Show Hosting, Commercial Acting, things that would allow me to utilize my natural abilities for the future me. Most importantly it allowed me to meet Brandon Schantz, who believed in me. That belief has carried be on forward through many tough times as I find my way.
When The marketing agency I was consulting dismantled under turmoil I could of never imagined it would of lead to greater prosperity with some of the greatest people I have ever met to take a greater role. The chaos, and negative environment was necessary to yield a greater purpose. I now get to build with great minds, positive energy and a renewed sense of team. We would of never had the opportunity to meet or even comprehend our potential. The circumstances brought us together. The dots looking backwards were needed.
Even as I write this now therapeutically I have yet to understand the happenings of my current life. I liken it to the feeling of riding a bicycle downhill with no hands on the handle bars or feet on the pedals. Trying to gain control only creates more instability as I move forward, but, I keep moving forward. As you look for ways to make sense of your life as it unfolds find comfort in knowing that “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." JUST TRUST. KEEP MOVING FORWARD.