Building a peaceful world through self-empowerment has been my life’s theme since high school. In the 11th grade, in a World History Class, Mr. Calmus, the teacher, presented a one-week lesson on the Holocaust. On the first day, he walked into the room with a black band around his arm, closed the door, folded his hands in front of him and announced, “This week, we’re going to learn about how to make a better world by examining the horrors of the past.”
His five-day unit included watching films, reading from the textbook, and engaging in classroom discussions. I was appalled at what humans had done to each other, and I vowed to make sure it never happened again.
Then, like any other teenager, I forgot about that promise until years later. It was the second summer after my college graduation from Miami University (OH), and I’d just finished my first of teaching business classes at a Dayton-area high school. The job was to coordinate a summer works program for economically disadvantaged youth, placing them in government-funded summer jobs and monitoring their progress. I was shocked at the living conditions of the many of the families. I’d grown up in a modest, penny-watching family, but I’d never seen anything like what I saw that summer.
Some of the youth I served lived with families of six or more, their one-bedroom apartments caked with ageing grease and dusted with cigarette smoke. I got to know the youth and their families, learning of their circumstances and seeing them as an extension of myself. From that summer on, I devoted my work to helping people lift themselves. I earned graduate degrees in the field, served as a school psychologist and later as a nonprofit administrator, and did volunteer work for civil rights.
As I endeavored at my work, I saw how money made things happen. I also learned that the quickest way to it was to ask people for it. To improve my skills, I earned another graduate degree in nonprofit management and subsequently raised millions of dollars to educate children and adults, empowering them to build better communities.
Mike Radice, © Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved