Ten years ago, I sat in Gutman Library at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. I got an email from some pro bono lawyers saying Reach had officially been incorporated. I toggled over to Facebook and posted, “It’s alive.”
Ten years ago, I took my guitar to a Cambridge bar, performed for an hour, and raised enough money to file the paperwork necessary to become a 501c3. Ten years ago, I made the decision not to apply for “real jobs.”
And, in doing so, I signed up to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Starting Reach has been exciting, painful, lonely, and rewarding. We have trusted teens, we have listened to teens, and we have built something that works every day to honor their potential.
Along the way, I have met incredible young people. I have watched them succeed, and I have watched them struggle. Some have faced trauma and oppression that no human deserves. Some have come to life due to the love and support provided through our work.
This work is complex and difficult and scary. And, as I’ve learned a thousand times, it’s not linear. If you show up consistently, good things happen (sometimes). I’m so honored that we’ve found a community that understands that.
I’ve cried tears of joy and pain and frustration. I’ve given hugs and watched valedictory addresses. I’ve paid bills and bought meals.
The world is an uncertain place right now. A decade in, I think about Reach’s next ten years, and I know it will be painful and it will be impactful. I don’t know much else, but I know that.
I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to lead this work and to know our kids. I hope I continue to be deserving of your support and their respect.
For several weeks, I’ve been thinking about how to sum up my experience over the last ten years. It’s been so incredible and so hard. And, a few days ago, I received a book in the mail. In it, a high school principal - Mr. Swinney - talks about his work. He’s good at his job, and he’s producing results. But, the path is so hard. He said it perfectly: “The anguish is worthy of the outcome.”
At Reach, we try to be #AlwaysThere for our kids. Thank you for being there for Reach through our first ten years. It’s been hard, but it’s mattered. And, if you ever wonder whether that’s true, come visit us. Our kids would be glad to tell you.
Want to give us a birthday gift? www.reachincorporated.org/reachturns10