I recently interviewed Jim Shaffer, Five Star Life Co-Founder and my mentor, on our weekly Five Star Life Radio Show. One of the things we discussed was the fact that Jim and I are both adopted. Adoption can be bittersweet. Poor choices by one adult can create a bigger void for a child and set them on a painful path ending in failure.
On a daily basis, I deal with students living in the pain of rejection and insecurity. It masks itself in low academic performance, acting out in class, anger toward adults, and identity confusion. However, there is an opportunity for someone to take a step to fill the void and create a dynamically sweet outcome.
Because of someone else’s poor choices, Jim and I could have become disconnected and lacked the support necessary to develop into who we are today. If nobody took the step to adopt us, there would be no Five Star Life. Think about all the stories of transformation we’ve shared through the years. None of them would have happened. Adoption connected us to families that changed our lives and set us on a path that would lead both of us to extend what we received to others. Our adoptive parents shaped our mindsets AND education, and gave us a platform to dream.
This holiday season, I want to thank each of you who has taken a step to make Five Star Life what it is today through your volunteerism and financial contributions. I also want to ask you to consider looking at your support differently. You are not just supporting a program or organization. You are adopting students. Not everyone has the means nor the capacity to physically adopt a child, but everyone can adopt a student through Five Star Life.
I started Five Star with the expectation of, “This is just going to be another way to kill time before I go home and hoping by the time I got home, my mom would already be sleeping.” I was placed on Coach Karen’s team who made me do my homework, held me accountable for my actions, and was the motherly figure that I needed. Having someone hold me accountable…I was not a fan! I started missing Five Star and coming in late. Seth and Coach Karen pulled me off to the side to let me know that was unacceptable and that I was to be there each week. To have someone who cared enough to hold me accountable and to believe in me meant the world. They were not just there because it was mandatory, but they really cared whether I was there or not.
I started coming to Five Star every week on time and really taking in all the lessons Seth would teach. I remember being this closed off, dark person who was just so full of hate on the inside, but once I allowed my Coach to speak life into me, once I finally started taking the lessons seriously, it changed me. I started getting better grades and I started opening up more.
One of the biggest lessons I learned while I was a student in Five Star was ‘refuse to be offended.’ To this day, I s7ll live by this motto. My mom has been sober for 6 years now and we have a great relationship. I would not have any of that if it wasn’t for Five Star teaching me to forgive others and teaching me to lead with kindness.
With all that Five Star taught me, I had to come back and help others realize their potential just like my Coach did for me. It’s now going on 10 years of coaching at Goshen Middle School and there is no other place I’d rather be on a Monday afternoon. There’s so much pure happiness you get while being there. Seeing each student have those light bulb moments makes sacrificing all the time and donations worth it. I am now in a leadership role at Lippert Components and I help run the Goshen Five Star Life program as a Team Leader. Without the Core Values Five Star taught me, I wouldn’t be the leader I am today.
The only thing holding us back from impacting even more students in 2019 is the lack of people willing to take a step and adopt the next Ana by being a volunteer coach or by adopting a student financially. If you were not involved in impacting our students in 2018, consider this a personal invitation to step up to the plate. It’s simple, adopt a student by volunteering or by giving $18 a month.
I also want to recognize the faithful supporters who stepped up to the plate. Your step made stories like Ana’s happen. Along with continuing your support,would you consider sharing this letter with 3-5 friends or family members? You may think the problem is too big and what you can do is too small. The truth is that together we can foster change. Together we can take a step and make significant change one student at time.