Maybe like me, it’s a personal experience. I took a senseless tragedy and gave it meaning, so the death of my daughter would not be in vain.
Early in my grief I asked a poignant question: “God, what are you going to do for me?” In His divine providence He gave me an incredible gift, the Leslie K Bedford Leadership Academy, connecting a daughter’s legacy and a mother’s love.
Twenty years of my life was passionately devoted to the growth and development of adolescent girls. In 1994, I went from the courtroom to the boardroom, learning to navigate resources to establish and lead a nonprofit.
What an entrepreneurial journey! The challenges and triumphs, uncertainties and setbacks, all empowered me to resiliently move forward with Faith that I would succeed. Failure was never an option. Thousands of girls were given tools to succeed, like Leslie was given.
Looking back at all the accomplishments under my leadership is mind-boggling! Most of all I remember the bright-eyed girls that came through the academy door. The exhilaration felt in helping them discover and develop their own leadership potential. The interactive sessions and programs, the teen summits, the mother daughter banquets, father daughter dances, the community projects, the plays, the documentaries, and so much more.
I remember the special people that I met along the way who willingly dedicated their hearts, hands and finances to help fulfill our mission.
So involved in getting things done, I did not immediately realize that the Academy was no longer the focus of my pain. It had blossomed into something different. I had become different too. No longer driven by pain, I was driven by my commitment to a cause greater than myself. Writing this post is such an amazing reminder of God’s kind providence!
Everything had been put in place for my success from the volunteers that donated their time and expertise to the girls who participated in the programs. The innate gifts that had been placed inside of me: the abilities to plan, create, write, and …; my long pursuit to earn a business degree; and even my flourishing human resources career had their purpose.
My testimonies are the girls themselves. The high school graduation rate; and the number that continued their higher education speaks to our success. We are forever bonded. Many of the young women keep in touch with calls, emails and facebook. Others invite me to share in their achievements: high school and college graduations, new careers, weddings and even baby showers. Many pay it forward by returning to volunteer for the Academy.
My heart swells with pride for all that I was blessed to accomplish. It was a deep and fulfilling two decades that I truly enjoyed. Now, I train others on how to start their own programs.
During this highpoint in my life, everything was coming together. Lessons I had learned in earlier stages, most of all, stepping out of the shadows to speak for myself were invaluable.
But the unidentifiable sadness still surrounded my heart. A co-worker said, you need to go within yourself to heal. I asked, “How do I do that?” Find out in my next blog post.