It’s Better to Give than to Receive

by Ashley Mitchell

Ashley Mitchell is a former Jumpstart Corps member from the University of Missouri at Columbia.

I am sure that all of you reading this have heard the old saying, “It’s better to give than to receive,” a million times your life. But how often can you truly say that you put those words in to play? For me, I make it my personal daily mission to at least impact one other person and preferably someone that I do not even know. Hello, my name is Ashley Mitchell and today it is my hope to inspire you to think about helping someone else, whether it be friend, co-worker, or complete stranger.

I’ll begin with telling you a little about myself. I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri where I currently reside with my husband, our daughter (7 going on 21), and son (15 months and a future NFL star might I add). My family is my world. My husband and I have a strong belief in helping our children tap into all their talents; using every possible resource to aid them in being all that they can be. Besides being a super mom and wife; my career is like a third child to me. For the past 5 years I have worked as an advocate in education for veterans with the Federal government agency, Veterans Affairs. I am so honored to serve those who have served our country and I must admit that daily my life is changed by the joy I know that I bring to these men and women with the simple acts that my career entails.

But enough about me, let’s talk about JUMPSTART! It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I walked into a preschool in Columbia, MO and laid eyes on the brilliant young minds that I know will one day run our country! I say that with such ease because the children that Jumpstart Corps members work with, like any other young children, have purpose. We were all born for a purpose. In my opinion, the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.

At an early age I realized what I was born to do. My life was far from picture perfect: growing up on welfare, being sexually abused, and never truly having the ability to be a child… I was destined to be just another statistic. Despite all odds, I rose above my social economic class, I rose above being a victim, and I am now a survivor. More importantly, any and every lemon that has ever been thrown my way, I have used to make lemonade. I realize that some people may think this is too much information, but it’s vital to share my story with you because I know that it has and will continue to give life to others who are currently in a similar situation. I also know that because of my past, I am who I am today. We must use the woes of our lives to help others see what they are capable of. Never be ashamed of where you have been because only you can decide where you’re going. I feel this is so relevant when it comes to Jumpstart because many of the children we work with are often looked at as another statistic, but you can be a doorway to success for them if you truly make it your daily mission to make an impact. Impact is not always what you say or give but in your actions…lead by example. No you can’t make a horse drink once you lead him to the water, but if you provide him with the tools, he will surely one day drink.

With the holidays upon us, think back to the times where you touched the life of a child, think back on the moments in your own life where someone else aided you into being what you are now, and lastly, challenge yourself to think about the last time you impacted the life of someone else. Now with this I challenge you to every night before bed think to yourself: what did I learn today, who made an impact in my life, who did I impact, how did I lead by example and how will I use these things to better myself for tomorrow. You see, life is all about taking small steps up the mountain and using the thorns along the way to give you something to hold on to on your way to the top.

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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