Make a Difference Raising the Barr Weekly Memo: Issue 146

This week’s reflection point: I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Tenement museum on Orchard street on New York’s lower east side while visiting the city this week. A dilapidated dwelling, built in the early 1860’s, housed more than 7000 immigrants between 1863-1935. What makes this building so unique? Surely many people have immigration stories that can be traced through familial genealogy these days.

This building, this area, was home to the true melting pot and fabric that comprised the American dream for thousands who dreamed of a better life in the new land. Each apartment, no more than 300 square feet,was inhabited by people sharing the same ethnicity, each hoping to find a path of greater safety, freedom and wealth for themselves and their children. Without proper sanitation, running water, electricity or gas, women gave birth, cooked, cleaned, raised and buried their children within the confines of these tiny homes, their sanctuary of hope and symbol of struggle. What appeared an untenable situation for me, in today’s world, was still a place of joy, community, family and promise.

Most men, working 14–16 hour days, still believed that their lives and the lives of their families were better off in this new world and the cramped, tuberculosis filled tenement was a stepping stone, a gateway to the rewards of hard work which lied ahead.

As we, in 2015, reflect on our year that is coming to a close, we too, look at the world we have created for ourselves, the walls which house our families, and the dreams we continue to dream as we hope for a brighter future for ourselves and our families.

How will we balance our personal needs versus the greater and pressing concerns of the world around us? What will each of us do to ensure that the difficulties we face and ultimately find ourselves challenged by in the weeks and years ahead help shape us personally and professionally to keep alive the hopes and dreams for a better future?

You and I live comfortable lives free of the challenges that the immigrants of the 1800’s faced. I feel it is still my duty to make a difference, continue to improve he world in which we live, and never give up hope for a better life for us, our families, our clients and all humankind.

This week’s tip: What are the areas in your life where there is room for growth personally, professionally and altruistically that you can make a difference?

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