How A Life of Service Has Guided Me to True Happiness
Adding value to others is the key to adding value to my own life
*Adapted from my keynote speech to The National Honor Society
I take pride in being different. I take pride in standing out. I take pride in deviating from the norm. I take tremendous pride in allowing those whose days are normally overcast by gray clouds, to experience clear skies.
On September 20th, 2001, 9 days after two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, I decided I wanted to set up a lemonade stand. I had just turned 7 years old, and at that age, I didn’t understand what was going on in the world, but it was obvious enough to tell that something was off, that people were off, and they needed help.
So, as any young entrepreneur would, I decided to set up a lemonade stand. But, I was never interested in starting the lemonade stand in order to make money for myself, that just never really appealed to me. Rather, my intention in starting the lemonade stand was twofold.
One, it was that so the people who stopped by, my family, my friends, my community members, could enjoy a cup of lemonade and put a smile on their faces, if only just for a moment.
Two, I wanted to start the lemonade stand because I wanted to give away all the money we made to the families affected by the 9/11 tragedy. My friends, our families, and I set up shop on the corner of Trescott and Straight Path right by Paumanok Elementary School in Dix Hills, New York, and we raised hundreds of dollars for 9/11 care and relief.
Service is IMPACT.
A few years later, I was a sixth grader at West Hollow Middle School. There was a student who had gone to elementary school with me. His name was Randy. Randy had learning and developmental disabilities, but you would never be able to tell from the smile that was always on Randy’s face.
Every day for lunch, my mom used to give me candy, honestly enough candy to feed my entire 12-person table. I used to get to my seat, take out my sandwich, and then do a dramatic pause as my friends eagerly awaited what kinds of treats they…