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.