Courageous action always speaks volumes, but it is particularly loud when it is in pursuit of dreams, or when it comes from a desire to serve, to create meaning for others. Christy Tonge (member of the Forum on Cross-Cultural Inspiration) and her husband Barry have always been involved in the development of youth, particularly under-served youth, in the Bay Area. They have two children of their own, 8 and 11, and both parents have active and successful business careers. But their aim has always been to apportion their time and effort to not only meet their own economic needs but also to use their substantial talents to personally help others.
This year, they raised their own very high bar. After officially founding the “Reach Potential Movement”, a non-profit that will institutionalize their effort, they decided that the work of inspiring kids was a contact sport. They leased their own home in Mountain View and moved to a small apartment in the neighborhood where the kids they hoped to inspire actually live. Here is Christy’s own reflection on the decision:
“To better understand the culture
and experience of the vulnerable kids
and families Reach Potential aims to
serve, and to better foster neighborhood
outreach, our family made the
decision to rent our home and move
across town to a low income apartment
complex in Mountain View.
After finding a home for our pets,
and goodbyes to our big backyard,
trampoline and other comforts, we
headed for our new neighborhood. It
was with excitement and nervousness
that our family took the leap.
We landed at apartment #56 on
the other side of our packing and
moving tasks (with wonderful help
from friends, family and RP supporters)
to begin life in our new
neighborhood. In my first week as I
struggled to converse in Spanish
with a neighbor in the laundry facility
as we did wash together, I remember
thinking, ‘What have we
done??…This is hard!’ ‘Will we be
able to build relationships here like
Though there have been many
adjustments for my kids and for my
husband Barry and I, we are so very
glad that we are here. It is stretching
us, giving us new eyes to see…and
opening doors for relationships and
for Reach Potential outreach that we
could not have had otherwise. We
are eager to see what the months
ahead hold, and certain that we will
learn a lot in the process.”
Barry, Christy and their partners in this venture are showing the way with what counts the most. Words are great, but action is far, far better–it speaks with our common tongue. Who we are always gets reflected in what we actually do with our lives…and in this case, it’s inspiring. Like Sadat, Mandela, King, Luther and the others that we all know, these folks have come to play.
To read more about this project, and to find out how to support them, see the “News from Friends” section of this blog.