Youth Pays Tribute to His Mentors

I’ve been looking at the computer screen for about an hour now, trying to think of what to say; how to say it. I spent another hour typing introductory paragraphs, deleting them, staring at the screen, typing them again, and deleting them once more. I thought I would never get this blog typed.

But then it came to me, in a strange, eerie message. I was sitting in front of my TV, watching American Idol, and Carly Smithson (who is AWESOME by the way) started singing “The Show Must Go On” by Queen. And I think it just clicked at that one moment. I took a deep breath, started to type, and hoped to death that I would be able to convey what I wanted to convey.

I never thought that The American Red Cross had the capability to hurt. Heck, I never thought that anything could actually hurt this much. But ladies and gentlemen, it has. Something has broken through the barriers of my heart and wounded me severely. And what might this be you ask; the loss of Youth Services for The National Capital Area, and thus, the loss of jobs for some of the most amazing people I know.

I’ve been able to accept why it happened and how it happened, and I’d like to say that I truly and fully respect The Red Cross’s opinion. Money is tight nowadays and things have to be cut; it’s just a fact of life. There is nothing I can do about it, nothing anyone can do about it but accept it, take a deep breath, mourn, and move on with our lives. Some of us need to mourn by being alone, some of us cry, and some of us talk it over with others.

I opt for talking it over with others. Talking it over with all of you.

I never wanted this blog to be an attack on The Red Cross, and it won’t be. I could never do that. But this blog does have a purpose. This blog, this one single post, is like one last gallant effort, one last time to show my appreciation to The Red Cross. One last time to show how thankful I am of two major people in my life: Jamal Davis and Gail Dickert.

Most of you most likely don’t know who these two are and you’ll never really know. They are another face in the crowd. But they are the bright, shinning and “willing to help” faces when you need them. Whether it be for emotional support, Red Cross training, leadership, or anything else, these people have been there for many National Capital members and for some of us, are like older siblings. There is on way we could have gotten to be what we are today; no way we could have been developed as leaders, and I thank both of them for that.

Jamal Davis though, is a “big brother” in himself. He’s the funny, loving, authoritative guy who when you need him to be there he always will be. From the moment you meet him, a friendly and accepting wave is cast over you, making you feel happy, giving, and at ease. It seems that any problems you have will simply go away when you are next to him. His friendly nature just makes you want to have fun with him, yet it seems you always get things done (and times flies while you are working with him). Even if when you come to a Red Cross meeting you aren’t in the mood to participate or to give anything constructive, but the end of the meeting your brain is already thinking about new ways to help the national. You just feel better and more like a human when you are with Jamal. He is truly an amazing person and someone I will miss seeing at a minimum of once a month, someone I will miss seeing at meetings and at conventions. Overall, I’ll miss this man more then I thought it was possible to miss anyone else. Thanks Jamal, for everything.

Now Gail…amazing Gail. She’s amazingly funny, more then I thought was possible. She can make a latte funny. Drop dead funny, people. That’s the epitome of funny if you ask me. She is the definition of a big sister, always there to protect her younger siblings. She has an amazing loving nature about her, always there to comfort someone with a laugh, but also with a phrase or two of meaningful advice. Her quirkiness makes her what she is, makes her Gail. There is no one else like her. Even if you cloned her, and exposed the clones to the exact same situations and events that Ms. Dickert went through, you’d never be able to replicate Gail; never. She is, in herself, an emblem of things that I’ve wanted to be in the Red Cross; someone that anyone can talk to, but at the same time, someone who can command attention and respect. And certainly, Gail can demand respect in any setting she is in. Its just a skill, one that she has mastered over her years. She’s just cool like that.

Now, the sad, yet obvious thing is that these people’s faces will, though it hurts me to type this, will melt into the pages of history. Nothing can be done about that. 20 years from now, there will be no sight of these people on The Red Cross website. They’ll be gone. But they won’t be gone in our hearts. Sure, its not like their dead or anything, this isn’t meant to be a eulogy, its one last final way to show my thanks, to show how much these leaders have meant to me and how much they have done for me, and how they will always, always, ALWAYS be in every action I do.

The purpose of the youth program of the Red Cross is the change the lives of youth in a positive way. Well Jamal, Gail? You did this from the moment I met you both. You’ve done your job. Now go out there and change the world in whatever you do. I’ know you’ll be great.

Kosoko Jackson

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3 Responses

  1. Kosoko,

    Thank you so much for your kind words! I never expected you would blog about this and be so incredibly transparent! It’s fantastic.

    I’m certain that all of our management team and board members share your disappointment about our situation and what it means to Youth Services. I commend you on being able to accept it as it is, without questioning the integrity of our commitment to youth in the National Capital Area! It’s a crash course on “real life” huh?

    There will be opportunities for our young leaders to stay involved with the American Red Cross! The WAY we do it won’t change the SPIRIT of what we do… there ya go, there’s the one-liners you’ve learned to count on from me lol

    So, whether it’s a life-changing latte, a crazy duet of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” or just some random Facebook Comment, you can be sure that I’ll do everything I can to live up everything you said about me! (Especially the part about quirkiness!)

    We love ya KoKo…
    ~ G

  2. I have to agree. One of the first successful community service clubs that I ran was within the National Capital region, when Darren Foster was there. The set-up & support was phenomenal, and resulted in my school’s club winning the bronze award for school clubs in 2001-2002.
    A few years later, a representative from the National Capital region came to Baltimore to work with my club. I was in a private school at that time, and we drew students from all over the state… I worked with the DC group, Prince Georges, and Montgomery County clubs to make sure my students had access to where they lived. Its very sad to discover that this will go away; I had always thought that youth services were one of the top things within Red Cross. I started as a youth volunteer 22 years ago, eventually serving as both the liaison to my local Disaster Services department and as the youth council vice-president.

  3. Kosoko and other youth: the wonderful thing about youth and those you have been influenced by is that you are young and these wonderful attributes that you have learned from these Red Crossers will be ingrained in you for some time to come (hopefully forever). A Red Cross quote that I have tapped on my computer is as follows: “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others remains and is immortal.” Albert Pike.
    Red Cross is a wonderful organization and so complex that almost everyone with good intentions can find something to “take away” and to spread around to others. It sounds like these two individuals did a lot of right things for your Youth and that’s Wonderful! Now that you are a Red Crosser yourself, keep on keeping on! Find an avenue within Red Cross that you want to continue traveling and learning…Best Wishes!

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