Last week, I had the pleasure and honor of attending Hillsborough County’s Department of Children’s Services Campus Enhancement Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. This momentous occasion was punctuated by speeches and remarks by some of the county’s esteemed Commissioners and guests. But with all respect to them, the most uplifting portion of program was hearing two of the youngsters speak candidly to the crowd. These two teenage boys have overcome extreme obstacles in their young lives, and with the help of the D.O.C.S. staff (including teachers, counselors and other personnel who contributed to their upbringing the past year), are currently on paths to bright, hopeful futures.
One of them boasted that, “I arrived a boy and am now prepared to leave here as a young man”. Once abandoned, homeless, destitute and alone, he is anticipating a promising career in the hospitality industry since securing an internship at the area’s most reputable dining and social club.
As one of Kids Wish Network’s 163 esteemed HERO OF THE MONTH facilities, I had actually been introduced to J and M “on paper” months before I saw them. Both were (deservedly) submitted as Hillsborough D.O.C.S.’ HEROES for February and March. There is no doubt that reading about their shattered lives was a completely different experience compared to hearing about their tales of perseverance and strength in person.
This is the first time I have had the opportunity to meet one of “my” HEROES and I certainly hope it won’t be the last. Normally, the adult serves as the role model for the children; other times, it’s the youngsters – like J and M – who are the true inspiration.