If someone had told me six months ago that I would be serving as the interim Executive Director for LIFE of NC, I would have laughed. I read a quote recently that said, “Life matters because we exist within and among living things, as part of an enduring and incomprehensible chain of existence. Sometimes life is brutal…but meaning is derived from perseverance. One who persists is a person of purpose.” When I think about being part of the journey of this small non-profit and what my time here means on a higher level, I fully understand what the quote is saying.
I have seen people walk through our doors with a variety of needs, desires, hopes and dreams. A few have moved me to tears. Some come in with nothing. Others appear after having lived a full life, but have fallen upon bad times. Many come after spending time in a penal institution, with the option being go to LIFE of NC or go back to jail. There are those who come to us and don’t have a place to live. Despite the state in which many come to us, I am always amazed at the fact that many persist, having a tenacious spirit to THRIVE.
Our official name is LIFE of NC, but people know us by the name of STRIVE. STRIVE is actually the name of the curriculum that LIFE of NC utilized starting back in 1999. We adopted the STRIVE teaching model, which originated in Harlem New York. It was a way of teaching people how to change their attitude and perspective in preparation for entry into the job force. With the STRIVE model, we have been successfull helping over 2,000 people to become gainfully employed over the last twenty-years. The old STRIVE model has been a mainstay for a generation. But the world and our community has changed over the last twenty-years.
While we will always be at the forefront of helping people get gainfully employed, our mission and focus has expanded much further than we imagined. We are focusing a lot of our time and energy on issues such as parenting, fatherhood, healthy families, personal well-being, and so on. We are also heavily involved in the Re-Entry movement across our state and nation, realizing that the culture of incarceration is a barrier to success and well-being not for the previously jailed, but for their families and the communities where they return to.
As we tried to capture what we are all about, we knew that we had to find a new name that encapsulates our very being, like STRIVE has for twenty-years. A lot of ideas were thrown out until we came upon the term THRIVE. Webster’s defines the word as “to progress toward or realize a goal despite circumstances; to grow vigorously, to flourish.” We realized at the moment we read that, that this is exactly what we want for those hundreds of people who come in to take advantage of what LIFE of NC has to offer. We believe that everyone who comes to us brings their talent, ability, and experience with them. We want them to move beyond merely “striving,” we want them to THRIVE. So STRIVE is a thing of the past and THRIVE is what we do. THRIVE with LIFE of NC is our new catch phrase. It says a lot!