Last week I was the keynote speaker at a JAFCO (Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options) luncheon. A few years ago, I never would have envisioned myself as the keynote speaker anywhere. What might I have spoken about? More importantly who would want to listen? But Shades of Gray has taken me down some new and very cool paths and, as I always say, things happen for a reason in life. So, off to the luncheon I went; nerves entangled, hands shaking. Knowing that the cause was infinitely worthy, I prepared a speech and picked out a dress. I walked up to the podium and somehow my nerves, that moments later wouldn’t allow me to eat the lovely lunch they served, settled down. I got to talk about kids – at risk kids. My passion overtook my fear and out the words poured.
Having visited JAFCO the week before, I expected it to be a far sadder place than it was. Being that the compound houses children whose lives have been torn apart, I suppose I expected what I was more accustomed to seeing in a system that has often failed the children who ended up in dropout prevention programs like my old ACE program, which I fictionalized in Shades. It wasn’t though. JAFCO is a place that reminds us that although reprehensible problems still exist for some children, if we impart a little love and devotion into what we believe in, miracles can happen. The women I met that support JAFCO through their tireless hours of volunteering are simply remarkable. Anyone who can look into a suffering child’s eyes I will never understand and there I was in a room filled with people that shared my passion to save them all. They renewed my confidence that, as trite as it sounds, that love can save the world. I want to thank JAFCO for inviting me to speak last week, for all they do for the children and for renewing people’s faith that together we can save the world. Tikkun Olam.