Thirty-one years, 11 months, and two weeks ago, Paul and I met for the first time. In the ensuing years I have said countless times, “I never had a chance.”
Several weeks ago I downloaded a count-down app to my phone. Every few days I change the music it plays while a counter shows how many days, hours, minutes and seconds I have until I walk out the door of the agency I founded. I have had it cycle through a bunch of Donna Summer and now am playing Clem Snide. But I do not change the background picture for the counter, a photo taken of Paul by a friend of his within a week of our meeting. I think this is fitting because he was with me every step of the way in this big endeavor.
Of course, as I have been posting all week, there were many others who made the big things happen we have accomplished over 20 years. In the earliest days, Jan Liebsch was my side-kick, an amazing administrative assistant who really never saw this one coming! Oh, and how the teens in those early days loved Jan! Chris Allen, Colin Kaehler, Josh Feyen, Rachel Federlin, Marc Korobkin, Penny Robbins — they were all in on the fun during the first years of Diverse and Resilient.
Today nearly 20 people surround the conference room table for staff meetings. A dozen board members, youth advisors, and more than 100 community health promoters in two dozen programs bring to life the ideas we had 20 years ago.
As I reflect on these past two decades, besides Paul, perhaps no one is more sharply in my mind this past week as Brenda Coley, Rachel Federlin, and Mark O’Neil. What remarkable people! What a fortunate man!