Saturday, April 9, 2011

Small Actions, Big Impact

Olivia (center) with NY Islanders and fellow Hometown Heroes

A year ago, I attened The Ethnic Pen, Bay Shore High School's annual writing conference and heard about Wangari Maathai's Green Belt project. I was amazed at how one woman's tree planting campaign changed the Kenyan landscape and the course of history. Four days later, the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, and little did I know, my daughter's subsequent action of donating bird illustrations to raise funds for recovery efforts would have a ripple effect in our own community and beyond.
At this year's Ethnic Pen, filmmaker Jennifer Arnold described the power of one woman's seemingly small actions and their ripple effect in her recent documentary, A Small Act. Hilde Back, a Swedish survivor of the Holocaust, chose to sponsor the education of a young, rural Kenyan student, Chris Mburu, sending off small amounts of money to cover his primary schooling. Mburu went on to graduate from Harvard, evenually becoming a Human Rights Lawyer for the United Nations. After Mburu decided to find the stranger who changed his life, he started a scholarship program of his own, naming it after his former benefactor. This exceptional story's ripple effect continues thanks to Arnold's film, which in itself, fought the odds to be made.
After the conference, I took Olivia and Jackson to the Hometown Heroes reception with the NY Islanders. Olivia, who had been made a Hometown Hero in January for her Gulf fundraiser, was surrounded by other Long Islanders who also took action when they were called upon.
It was a rewarding day, a reminder that each one of us has the opportunity to make a difference in small and big ways.
If you are in the Huntington area tomorrow, please drop by The Book Revue at 3 pm for Olivia's book signing.

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