Serving Your Community – A Higher Calling

Making a difference. Many times, it may seem that making a large difference upon the world around us is meant for other people – people more gifted than us – but most certainly not us. How wrong we are should we allow our thoughts to be shaped in that manner. We can all make a difference if we try. President John F. Kennedy once stated, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

This statement is true. We all can be destined to make a difference, no matter how small that difference may seem. Many of us carry the titles of family member, citizen, brother, sister, mother, father, son, daughter. Just by existing in this role, as long as we are trying to live a good and decent life, we are making a difference. How else can we make a difference? The answer is surprisingly simple. In our community. Be a force of good in your community. Communities are bonded and made up of people, the same as you and I. Volunteer for a committee, express interest in being appointed to a tow or city board. Run for a municipal office. To make a difference in regard to the society in which you live in and to impact policy relating to the community that you call home, you do not need to be an orator, a mighty crusader or a larger than life figure. You can be yourself and represent your community.

I know of many people who have done this in my community and in the surrounding towns where I live. These people inspire me and drive me to be better. These people impact the world, even if only in a seemingly small world. However, what may seem small and insignificant to one person may mean the world to another. I know that in my own experience, serving the public in the role of serving in town government is one way that I try to make a difference.

When I graduated from Graduate School in 2013, I felt compelled to give back to the community that had raised me. Perhaps it was the fact that I had just earned a Masters in Public Policy and Administration. Perhaps I felt the call of a higher calling. I knew that I was not going to go to Washington D.C. and make a difference. I knew that my public policy path would not lead me to being the next Kennedy or Bush and that my words would not leave a mark on society like Martin Luther King Jr. or any other great figure in history. Rather, my path was going to be distant. My path was going to follow that of my fellow towns-people in Hadley, the local storekeeper or farmer who stood up and delivered on what they believed was right and stood for the residents of the communities that they call home.

My conviction that I could make a difference in this world, no matter how small, by participating in my community, led me to some unique opportunities that I am proud of. From 2012 on, yes – this started prior to my Graduate school graduation, I have served the town of Hadley, MA in a few different roles.

From 2012-2016, I served the Hadley Park and Recreation Department as the Instructional Youth Sport Coordinator/Head Coach for T-Ball, Soccer and Basketball. The Athletic Coaching Manual that can be found on this website here is part of that legacy. That website is Matt Kushi’s Athletic Coaching Lessons at www.mattkushicoaching.com. This was a project started during my time at Hadley Park and Recreation and continues to this day, perhaps in a future role within that department.

In 2013/2014, I served on the Hopkins Academy 350th Anniversary Committee, helping celebrate Hadley’s public high school – and my high school alma mater – celebrate a milestone anniversary and promote the value of an education.

From 2014 to the present day, I have served on the Hadley Agricultural Commission.  Currently, I am the Chair of the Commission. This Commission has been a piece of work that I am extraordinarily proud of, given Hadley’s agricultural status. When I first joined, I did not realize that the Commission had been dormant for 10 years. I was quickly named the Chair and the past few years have been spent making the Commission active and bringing it back from the dead. I am proud to announce that we have completed such initiatives such as taking part in a regional Agricultural Commission educational workshop and that we are currently working on other initiatives and education opportunities, such as promoting the Right To Farm Bylaw and helping support local agricultural events.

Have I helped make difference? I would like to think so. Occasionally, I will get stopped in town and asked about Hopkins Academy or agricultural matters in town. To some, I am still known as Coach Matt from Hadley Park and Recreation. Have the committees I have worked with made a difference? Yes. Taking part in the workings of our community, whether volunteer, appointed or elected, allows you to serve your community and make a difference in your community, one life at a time.

 Robert F. Kennedy once said, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” If you want to make a difference in the lives of others, no man nor woman is too small for the task. Every person can make a difference – it is just a matter of believing that you can and making the effort. If you want to make a difference in your community, always remember that you can serve your community in many ways. My story reminds of me this. My friend’s story and experiences remind me of this.  You can make a difference. You will make a difference.

Making A Difference: Why I Write

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” These words were once spoken by President John F. Kennedy. We inhabit a world that is filled by billions of souls. Each of us have our own sense of purpose. Our sense of self. Our own sense of self-expression. Our own sense of what we add to the world that we have been born into. This statement is so simple, yet it contains power. We tend to think of the idea of power being derived from the people, of the people and by the people as an idea born of governance. While this is true, it is more than that. It describes how we can function as a society. While not all of us are great or are extraordinary figures, we all have the power to be. We have the power to be through our actions and how we conduct our lives. This, in turn, impacts those around us and the society around us. Just as a stone casts a ripple when it is cast upon the water, the actions of our lives create a ripple around us. I have this ability. You have this ability. We all have this ability. The question is, do we use it? And if we use it, is it for good or is it for evil?

Now, take a step back. Think upon how you lead your life. What is your purpose? By which virtues do you live your life? Do you seek better the lives of others or merely yourself? How do you set out doing this? Hopefully, you have the courage to follow your heart and stand and deliver upon the virtues in which you believe in. Hopefully, your purpose is to better the world around you, starting with yourself.

I stop and look in the mirror at myself. I am reflecting on the same questions that I have just asked you to reflect on. In my mind, I see a question form in that mirror that has been asked me many times by many people. Why do I write? It seems to be a rather simple question doesn’t it? I am writing this now for others to read with some purpose. I operate a writing website and write lyrics and poems for some reason. Why do I write?

As I reflect upon the questions that I opened this article with, I know that I write for several reasons. Initially, it was to spread a message. I wrote about disability advocacy and advocating for the stopping of the word “retard” as a slur. I did this for a family member and I was proud of it. I also wrote because I liked the attention it brought me. I found I could impress people with it. If I could impress a girl that I liked with my writing and my ideas, all the better! *Note: This never did work for me on the latter when that was my goal*

The more I wrote, the more that my reasons for writing became focused. For me, writing is a form of self-expression. Writing is a form of communication. Writing is a way to explore ideas and to spread a message to others – it is a way to inspire others. In the final analysis, I write to make a positive difference in the world around me. I write to give a voice to those why may not have a voice. I write to spread awareness on issues and provide a perspective that can inspire others. I write to tell a story and to spread a message – hopefully one of humanity.

When I write an article, such as this one, I am seeking to spread a message that I believe in. I am seeking to share a story with you that makes you think. I am looking for opportunities to find stories of humanity winning out – the light defeating the darkness – in this world and letting you see it as well. I am looking to make you aware of an issue. I am looking to make you think. Throughout human civilization, man has chased monetary items as their treasure. As has been pointed out in many different ways, money is not our treasure – knowledge is.

Why do I write my lyrics and poems? For many of the same reasons. I am seeking to tell a story, stir an emotion and make you feel something. My writing process is heavily influenced by music and I will often listen to a series of songs and music to set the mood for what I am feeling that I am going to write. I pull from varying pieces of story-telling and personal experiences in order to write and tell the story. The tone and cadence often is inspired by the music that I have immersed myself into. I immerse myself into the music, when I do this, to the point where I can feel and breathe the tone and emotion that the song is giving. I then use that energy in the piece I am writing. However, the end goal is the same – to share something I am feeling and/or to make the reader aware of an issue. The goal is to make you think.

These are the reasons that I write. Why do I write ultimately? I can sum it up like this – If I can inspire one person, change one heart or make a difference in one person’s life by spreading knowledge, I have been successful. Writing is one of the small ways that I – a small town man – can make a difference. We all have it within us to make a difference.

So, my question to you is “How do you make a difference and why?” Please leave comments on what you do.