At Your Service: Nov. 25, 2009

It is Thanksgiving week and whatever our circumstances, there is much for which we can be thankful. Top of the list is that we are living in times dynamic enough to have spawned the likes of Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Prince Charles of Britain and Wendy Evanitsky.
Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey are people who have risen to extraordinary heights based on the sheer force of their wills. They were each among many embarking upon careers in new areas of industry who broke through the ranks to be leaders beyond their fields.
Gates was a geek before being a geek was “kewl”. When he was in eighth grade, he got into trouble for hacking into the systems of a major computer company. When his resultant suspension expired, the company hired him to find and fix bugs in its programs; the rest is history. He retired from his position as Microsoft CEO at the age of 55 last year and devotes most of his time to philanthropy. It is not coincidental that his first acts of giving were to introduce computers to schools populated by the under-advantaged – giving to a new generation the opportunity he rode to success.
Oprah is one of America’s best known success stories; she rose from poverty in rural Mississippi through abuse and countless hardships to become, arguably, the most influential woman in the world and certainly the most recognized African-American until Barack Obama. Where some would have become bitter, her prevailing message has been one of hope and promise.
Prince Charles has lived his entire life in the international limelight. We have been privy to almost every detail of his life and yet know little about the things that matter most to him. While the focus was on his marriages and what some would consider to be personal failings, he has devoted the last quarter century to developing green resources. He holds several patents for technology that will serve the planet’s environment into the future. He has done this without fanfare; he calls it his “return for my blessings”.
These three are classic examples of the possibilities available to people in this day and age; they each exceeded the expectations others had for them in different ways. Whether we have made the most of them or not, we too have limitless possibilities and are lucky to live in a time and place where individuals can accomplish amazing things. It is never too late to become more than we thought we could be.
When I reflect on the people whose life experience gives me reason to celebrate, a lesser known name comes to mind. Wendy Evanitsky is a consumer at the ARC of Delaware County. I do not know the details of her prognosis, but, she is wheelchair bound and her ability to speak clearly is one of many challenges. When Wendy smiles her violet eyes light up the room and everything short of endless possibilities falls to the wayside. She has the countenance of true royalty – those for whom greatness and leadership are a birthright. One of the things that make her exceptional is that she seems to be appreciative of everything she has. Her spirit is the best kind of contagious.
This week I am thankful to live in a world in which the sky is the limit. One does not need to be famous to make a difference in the world, or even in a small corner of it. Thanksgiving is more than a holiday; those for whom it is a way of life generate an experience of living that we can all celebrate.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!!

Don’t forget to show your appreciation to those service providers who take care of you all year long in the Catskill Best Service awards.