Henry, shut up!

(RCL #2- IT WAS NEVER PUBLISHED)

In my last RCL post I said that I am a very “passionate” person… That is a very nice way to describe me. I am loud, extremely friendly, and love to be the center of attention. When I played baseball, it was easy for me to be myself; moreover, I would always be the loudest player on the field, give pre-game pep talks, and taunt the other team. How in the world was I going to be obnoxious Henry while doing service?

Sometime after my surgery, I sat in on my school’s service club’s weekly meeting. I remember the board members saying that they needed more money to support our partner school in Nairobi, Kenya. When I went home that day, I found myself meticulously crafting a Super Bowl Pool to ensure that my buddies and I would be able to gamble on the big game. My mom walked into the kitchen, and said, “Hen, why don’t you do a Super Bowl pool for St. Al’s in Kenya?” She got me thinking… Teenagers don’t like to hand out money, but when they have the opportunity to win something, they are the first to open their wallets.

The next day, with the help of a few friends, I set up a Super Bowl Pool ($7 per box) in my school’s cafeteria– $5 from every box would be given to St. Al’s and the other $2 would go towards the prize. At first, no one came over to the sign; it was as if we were invisible. However, in classic Henry fashion, I stood on top of the table and began screaming, “Super Bowl Boxes! $200 pay-out to the winner!” Immediately, a line formed across the cafeteria, and we were forced to create two separate pools. At the end of the day, I raised $1000 for AIDS orphans in Kenya, and that $1000 funded a full year’s education and housing for a child. This simple fundraiser showed me that my personality is at the foundation of all my passions, even when they change.

They Really are People

(RCL #3)

Sometimes you just get that feeling that you can read a person. He’s a jock. She’s a diva… You can base your whole interpretation of a person just by the way they look, carry themselves, or where you see them. Why not look deeper?

In It’s What I Do, Addario chooses to interact with people with definitive stereotypes during a very sensitive time-period— Middle Eastern women directly after 9/11. Not only does she interact with them, but she entertains their thoughts and opinions. I know most people, if they heard someone say that “the attacks of September 11 were justified,” would immediately react in a harsh and aggressive manner (Addario 72). Addario, however, desires to learn more about these women’s lives so that she can understand the reasons behind their hatred of America and to shed light into the society which they were raised.

In high school, I founded a service project called “Regis and Rikers,” which entailed groups of high school students visiting Rikers Island Correctional Facility and interacting with the youth inmates. It started as a branch of my school’s Christian Service Club, but quickly morphed into a school wide effort. Now, here’s the thing: who would want to visit and engage in activities with soon to be convicted criminals? People that are behind bars for apparently breaking the law. People that could potentially hurt or harm you, given their track record.

In thinking about criminals, people fail to understand that they are people; moreover, they have been shaped by their experiences, families, and up-bringing’s. Is it a person’s fault if they were raised in a housing project, received no motivation to attend school, and were left misguided as to learning what is right and wrong? Along these lines, is it the women’s, whom Addario interacted with in the Middle East, fault that they were raised to hate the United States and anything representing it?

This is no means to justify the acts of 9/11, in fact, I have been impacted by the events of Islamic extremists: my mother was in the trade center for the car bomb in 1993, my father is a retired from the NYPD, and I live within sight of what used to be the World Trade Center. But just as Addario did in her novel, I plan to take risks with my passions and to unveil them through my passion blog. 

 

Serve with your tongue out

PASSION BLOG 1:

When I loved to play baseball, oh man, did I show it. You know in grammar school when you’re playing a sport, whether that be soccer, football, or softball, and your coach asks you to cheer for your teammates, well, I had the opposite problem. My coaches used to tell me to quiet down and relax.

When I began to get heavily involved in regular service, I developed a strong desire to help those in need; however, I was not yet sure how I could make an impact that would be different than everyone else. I mean, for the most part, anyone could fill a cup of soup, collect money, or stock shelves. So, I was left with the question: how can I really make a difference?

I don’t mean to say that I simply wanted to be the center of attention in the service that I did, instead, I wanted to stand out in terms of the result of my service. Take the picture below as an example.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, that is me embarrassing myself on the dance floor with elementary school children. Yes, all the attention is radiated around me. Yes, I look so extra and maybe a little strange. But besides those things, you have to think about what I am doing. The picture was taken during a visit to an elementary school in East Harlem, New York. The kids in the picture primarily come from low income families, and it was my service club’s idea to provide the children with a Christmas Celebration– who knows if their families can give them the same Christmas experience that most of us know and love. Originally, it was our idea to simply hand out candy and color books with the children, but I was having no part in that. If we were going to party, we were going party!

So, yes, I dressed up as Santa and looked ridiculous, but at the end of the day, my group and I held an amazing dance party and the kids were not able to stop smiling or dancing. I know that the kids had a tremendous amount of fun, and I would like to think that my character and my passion to stand out played a role in maximizing our impact on the children.

Now that I have been actively engaged in service for several years, I have grown to love the reward of putting a smile on a person’s face. I have been able to make an impact on communities of suffering ranging from prison inmates trying desperately to reform their lives to patients in hospitals fighting for a few extra days to be with their families.

The work that I have done is not plugged into a stat sheet, like it was in my previous days playing baseball, but I’d like to think life is more than just the “stats.” There’s nothing better than doing something you love and knowing that you can be yourself every step of the way.

 

 

I love surgery

Sitting in my crib, wearing my stylish Derek Jeter onesie, who knew that I would grow up loving the game of baseball? I played t-ball, little league, travel baseball, and eventually high school baseball. Baseball became more than a sport for me; moreover, it was a way for me to bond with my family— often times I would go down to the field with my dad or grandpa to have a catch— it is how I made most of my friends, and it is what truly made me happy. I’m not sure if this is what I really want to talk about because something happened. In high school, baseball became more of a class or business than a fun game. It was as if I was in “The Road to College Baseball” Class every day from 3pm-7pm!

I was losing contact with friends, I was traveling around the country for tournaments, and I was in pursuit of something that I really didn’t want: to play college or professional baseball. I just enjoyed baseball because it was fun. This is going to sound a little weird but the best thing that happened to me was me tearing my labrum in my shoulder. It gave me a break. And during that break, I found something that I enjoyed in a different way than baseball— service. I loved reaching out and helping those in need, and at first glance, service and baseball seemed so much different; however, after really thinking about it, they were actually quite similar. This may seem strange but let me tell you why… My greatest gift is my personality, and I believe what truly defines my personality is my passion. When  I am passionate about something, I give it my all and at the end of my baseball career, I felt I was losing that passion, but thankfully, my passion found a new home. While I wasn’t using my passion to win a baseball game, I was able to use it to provide support, nourishment, and love to people that need it most.