Saturday morning, the alarm went off early. Crazy early. Still dark early. 4am early. As I dragged myself out of bed and got ready for the day, I asked myself why. I was tired and grumpy and needed coffee in a bad way. Some people get up on weekends at this time for work or sports, but I was not up for pay or exercise. I was volunteering at The 84 Kickoff in Worcester.
For those of you who don’t know, The 84 is a movement led by youth in Massachusetts who are fighting for a tobacco-free generation. 84 refers to the percentage of youth in Massachusetts who are already tobacco-free.
As you may remember from my last post, like many people, I have more than a few obligations and activities in my life right now and I keep busy. There is always something I could be working on. On my early morning drive to Worcester, I was trying to psych myself up for a day spent not relaxing, or getting even getting my work done. I have volunteered at a number of The 84-related events before, so I knew it would be a great event. It is certainly a worthwhile cause, but I was tired and had other things I could be doing on Saturday, my only full day off in any given week.
However, at the event, everything changed. It wasn’t when I was schlepping tables and gallons of juice setting for breakfast, or arranging chairs, or hanging signs. One of my duties was to run the DIY photo-booth for the event. We had a table covered in funny hats and props for the youth to wear and there were special incentives for taking a photo with someone you just met that day. As the first group approached me and I saw their smiles and felt their energy, I really perked up.
Many of these young people had to get up as early as I did, or even earlier, but you couldn’t tell that from looking at them. Even though I am sure they had other things they could also be doing on a Saturday, they were excited and pumped to be there. You could tell that they were there because they wanted to be. They were fighting for a cause that they believe in and they were over the moon to be in the same space as other young people with this same passion. This energy was palpable the entire day.
After the event, I was worn out. But, I was inspired. These young people reminded me that you have to work to fight for what you believe, and to accomplish things.
Lately, it seems like everyone is busy, I’m not the only one. Most of us have a lot on our plates and always have something else we could be doing. However, I now have a renewed energy and passion to make time for the important things, and to remember how important it is to make time for the things that are important to me. I urge you to do the same. Whether it is your family, a particular cause, or furthering your education, you will be glad that you have devoted your time and energy to something worthwhile.
I leave you with some photos I believe capture the energy and spirit of the youth in The 84. I hope that it is as contagious to you as it was to me!