Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 319; Be The Force

Be the Force
I’m flying on a cloud and I don’t want to come down. Yesterday, I had the chance to speak to a group of folks, most of them 20-somethings who work for a non-profit called Youth Villages. (Read More)
These beautiful and hard-working people work with troubled and at-risk youth both in care and in their homes with their families. They listen to the needs of the young folks they serve, the research they conduct regularly and the families the kids are from, but they also listen to their own heart.
When I first learned of their work, I watched a tape of their CEO, Patrick Lawler (who I kept calling Cliff—crazy brain, crazy brain) as he spoke about his work, the mission and what inspires him.
 In addition to being a strategic thinker, Pat also lives from the heart. The company is featured in a new book called Everyday Heroes along with 49 other amazing groups.
I was moved to tears by a young woman I taught 27 years ago. Marcia came up and threw her arms around me and said “Thank you for being my mentor." She reminded me of a song I taught her class by Sweet Honey in the Rock;
We all, every one of us has to come home again. Some of us, were born on the bottom, we grew up from the bottom and we declared that we’d never return to the bottom.
Marcia had not only remembered this song all of these years, she had committed it to her life and her work. She grew up from the bottom and is earning her PhD.
When a band of old and young performers played Love and Happiness, I was in tears again; it was my mother’s favorite. Then when the band was introduced and one of the members was the only survivor of the Bar-Kays, who all went down on the plane that killed Otis Redding I was crying some more and I knew my ancestors were speaking to me clearly.
“The Force for Families;” is the mission and motto of Youth Villages and I witnessed a new movement.
As I looked out over the crowd of beautiful and diverse folks, I was reminded of the abolitionist movement. It too was filled with young hopefuls of all races. It was peopled by folks who knew they could make a difference and didn’t stop to think about the risk, or the reward.
Read about them, learn about what they do and then ask yourself, how you can be a force in your community or town. What can you stand for? What can you change?
What song can you dance to? Start with Love and Happiness. (click here and dance)
Be you, be well, be the Force.
Bertice Berry, PhD.


  1. I was in the sudience yesterday--YOU ROCKED THAT SPEECH! I am on the "something" side of those 20 year olds, but feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with YV. The staff are amazing, dedicate professionals and the organization as a whole is top-notch. The best part of all is the privilege of being even a small part of the lives of the youth we serve--they are truly awesome and I learn so much from them.
    Thanks for sharing your motivational thoughts with us all--in this case, something WAS right!

  2. Thank you for speaking at our conference! You were wonderful and such an inspiration! I left the room feeling like a better person:)

  3. I can't tell you how many people came up to me after your presentation and said you were the best "keynote" speaker we've ever had in the 15 years we've had an employee conference. Your delivery was impeccable but your heart for those in need is incredible. Thank you!

  4. We've all been doing "Somethin' ain't right" and sticking our teeth out to each other, howling with laughter. Thanks for being such a personal force for good and for sharing your talents with Youth Villages at our conference. You were outstanding!

  5. My staff have come back so impressed and inspired by your message last week at our conference Dr. Berry. It has helped refuel them to continue their movement with these children and families! We can't wait to share the video footage with our staff that stayed back so they too can hear your words of encouragement and support!