With the holiday season approaching, EAST Initiative President and CEO Matt Dozier reflects on the attitudes of gratitude we often receive from students, facilitators and others for their innovative education experiences through EAST. A simple “thank you” reminds us all of why we do what we do. We invite you to help us celebrate 17 years of EAST by being one of the first 17 donors to support EAST to kick off #GivingTuesday December 3.
Every once in a while an email or card (yes people still do use old fashioned mail with hand-written notes and everything) will come to me that takes my breath away. These tend to be centered on two small but powerful words and one world-changing attitude. The words: “thank you;” the attitude, gratitude. These are so wonderful because they are totally unexpected and completely honest. We never ask that our schools, facilitators, administrators or students do this. We enjoy just hearing about what they are doing so when they take the time to stop and specifically share their gratitude for the EAST opportunity, it can be humbling. Let me share a few:
To say that we are amazed at the difference that EAST has already made in our culture is an understatement. We have kids “plugged in” that were on my radar as potential drop outs! [ ] My high school counselor sent me an email yesterday saying that in all the years she has been at our high school, this is the best thing she has seen happen for students. - Principal, Southeast Arkansas
The students are learning a lot. Sometimes I want it to proceed faster and see more finalized products but the kids are learning so much about working with others, talking to adults, setting their own goals, and so many things you already knew they would learn. I am sorry it has taken me this long to tell you how much I appreciate it. But, once again, thank you. - Facilitator, North central Arkansas
I know you know this, but EAST has absolutely changed my outlook on a lot of things. Being in EAST has played a huge role in my life. It showed me that if I’m truly passionate about something, then I can do it. – Student, Northwest Arkansas
I’m not sure I ever got to share my appreciation and respect for EAST as it started me on a wonderful path. I’ve used my experiences, problem-solving skills, and [other] knowledge gained from the program already through college and cannot wait to continue utilizing it all in the future. – Student, Northern Louisiana
EAST has not only taught me real-life skills and characteristics that are vital to be successful, it has also introduced me to what I want to do for the rest of my life…. Like I’ve always said - EAST has put something in my hands and let me run with it and for that I am extremely grateful. I have realized in the past year just how fortunate I am to have not only the EAST Initiative available to me but an exceptional EAST program in my own school. I thank you once again for everything you have done for me… – Student, Central Arkansas
How can you not be humbled? How can you not be touched? How can you not be proud and thrilled to be part of an organization that engenders this sort of reaction and testimony. All of it sincere and unbidden
Most of the research says that job satisfaction is much less influenced by salary or other obvious factors and much more by a sense of accomplishment and success; a commitment to a common mission and the opportunity to be creative and have a positive influence on others. Can you guess how the EAST staff feels about their jobs?
For my part, I am grateful to be part of this incredible organization and to have the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people. In my 15 years of being fully involved in EAST (three as a facilitator, 12 as a staff member—with six of those as President) there has not been a day go by that I haven’t felt like the luckiest guy this side of Lou Gehrig. Every day I am allowed to go to work and interact with the best educators in the world, the most dedicated staff anyone can imagine and the most creative students you will ever meet.
At the end of the day, it does all come down to our EAST students. We ask them to put their talents, their creativity, and their passion to work in pursuit of bettering their communities. And time and again they exceed anything we could have imagined. I know for a fact they often surprise themselves as well. How cool is that?
When it came time to write this blog entry, I was not planning to deliver my “Thanksgiving Special” but here it is. When we do get the emails, cards and letters like the ones above, we typically respond the same way. “Thank you for your kind words, but more importantly, thank you for all YOU do to prove the power of EAST and to make the world a better place.”
Until next time,