Each piece of a puzzle makes the picture whole. At one point during the process of manufacturing, the picture is divided into smaller puzzle pieces. By the time the puzzle is disconnected, broken down into several parts -- each with its own distinct fit -- it is placed and contained, then distributed for someone else's use.
As I considered "why working with Opportunity Youth is so important to ME," this analogy came to the forefront of my thoughts.
For most of us born in the USA, we grew up with hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Even starting from the bottom, we find a way to see ourselves in how we fit into the bigger picture of the American Dream. Through the process of life I separate myself from a nice fit. As I began to isolate myself and gravitated to things that "looked" more High Definition greener on the other side, life began to divide off into other things.
My hopes of working and traveling became a corner radius. But of the $100 I made working, I was only able to save $20, and I still had to pay for food and a classic $1 hot tea from the Chinese store. My dream of having my own home became a nightmare as I couch surfed and even spent the night in abandoned cars. The aspiration of graduating from high school morphed into high school simply becoming a place of social interaction. As a disconnected youth I found my way to connect and be a part of the "in crowd." I also found ways to make a couple extra dollars in the cafeteria, not realizing all the wrong doings that are associated with the "in crowd" can become who you are. They say ignorance is bliss, but I say not knowing who you are will affect where you fit.
Now as a young adult advocating, serving, and working with Opportunity Youth, it is more than work for me. It is my life, my bigger picture. I did not know that back then everything I went through would be my piece to the puzzle today. Through it all, life has brought me back to a place where I will be of good use to others through service.