Leadership With a Listening Heart Led to My Transformation

by | Feb 24, 2017 | Archive

Leadership and connecting with the community is valuable. We all have a place in our community, and it is up to each of us to seek that place. Our community can grow as much as we can grow personally. Our community can transform as much as we can transform. Our community can speak as much as we speak. Our community can connect, as much as we connect. My experiences with The Pollination Project as a Grantee and Fellow (aka Flow Funder) with the Youth Development Hub has helped me use my voice to share stories, grown personally and professionally, and make connections to grow stronger together.

My voice is heard through my work. I believe every child deserves a chance to pursue their dreams and goals through their education. Many opportunities come from a quality education whether it is homeschool to public education. It starts with the basics, which is a pencil and paper. This is where learning begins. Then we add teachers, buildings, programs, extracurriculars, and much more to the experience. However, not all students have the same great educational experience that one may be afforded at a well-funded and resourced school.

This is where our voices can be heard. We must stand up and raise our voices for these children who do not have access to an abundance of resources. My work with Give More HUGS (Helping Unite Giving Souls) and The Pollination Project has connected me to individuals, teachers, students, organizations (small and large) to help students in need. In the process of uniting with giving souls, I hear many voices through stories shared. These stories give examples of hardships, reasons to come together to help students, and proof of the passion that is in many pockets of our communities. I have met several teachers through my work. When I connect with these teachers by listening and sharing ideas with acts of love, we develop a stronger bond. When I listen to how hard they are working to provide for their students, it motivates me to work hard and share these stories. The stories from the grantees that I nominated motivate me. It inspires me to share their work and stories to help the students they serve.

The Youth Development Hub Fellowship has helped me grow both personally and professionally. In life, routines and schedules is something that many of us are use to, and need to function optimally. Life without disruptions seems to be ideal, but in order for true transformation to happen we must disrupt the norm. We must be okay to have hard conversations that will address issues that need support and love.

It is not easy, but if we can start having these difficult conversations, change can lead to transformation (which can lead to a more compassionate and just world). As humans, it is rare to see eye to eye on everything, but with a listening heart we can begin to understand one another more. Through the connections and collaborations made from this fellowship, I have been able to meet a diverse group of people. People whose life experiences (like mine), have led them to a life of advocacy work. When you connect with others easily because of advocacy work, it provides hope and encouragement to continue this purpose (of mine to help students in need). I also believe these experience motivates my peers who are involved in this scope of work to keep going. We motivate each other to continue to do small acts of change. I am confident these small acts will see a day that is greater than my own vision for a better and brighter world.

The connections that have happened because of this fellowship paved a way for us all to grow stronger together. I can attest that we have leaned on one another for support and listening ears. I can attest that many of us have talked about collaborations or in fact have begun the collaborations that will have a lasting impact. These connections have provided partnerships and friendships that will be cherished.

Also, these connections made have helped me develop a better understanding of both the micro and macro levels of complexity that make up our world. Relationships, power, money, knowledge, voices, and communities are such an important part of our everyday lives. What happens each day begins to create what will happen in the future. My hope is that the work and the work of my peers (and those who are leading social change projects) will continue to help us make connections to deepen and root our work for a better and brighter future.
My life continues to be transformed. Recently, several Texas TPP Grantees came together to connect and learn more about the work we are doing in our communities.

It was an amazing and unforgettable experience (just like our recent TPP Fellowship Retreat). We shared our stories, visions for the work we do, and easily connected. It was not easy leaving to our respective communities because we wanted to continue our meaningful and supportive conversations. I believe our world needs more spaces like this to bring our communities together. These individual leaders and those who view they are a part of the social fabric of our world gives me hope that the future will be filled with hearts that will witness transformation.

When we take time to let our voices be heard, small change is happening in our hearts and community. Our voices collectively become stronger, and our stories begin to permeate change.

Written by Carolyn Ashworth