Written By: Jodi-Ann Potter
I was born in the beautiful island of Jamaica, raised by a single mom and had the privilege to move to the United States when I was 7 years old. I was enrolled in after school activities at a nonprofit after school program called Adventures In Learning. My mom worked very hard as a single parent which meant she worked late hours sometimes. I grew up knowing sometimes it would be hard for my mom because as a single parent working hard just isn’t enough on one income while raising 3 kids.
I attended Adventures in Learning all the way up to Middle school and then started volunteering my time in High school and even became a camp counselor in the summers. The director of the program used her connections within the community to help us get housing when we had to move. And one of the most special moments of my childhood is remembering thanksgiving and Christmas time and knowing we just wouldn’t have a lot because we couldn’t afford it. But thank God for this program, as my family was sponsored every year since I was a little girl. I remember my face lighting up like a Christmas tree every year. The excitement and joy I felt was just unexplainable. We were so thankful and so happy that someone cared enough to help us. The impact and positive influence this program had in the community and in my life changed me forever. It was and still is so IMPORTANT AND SO NEEDED! The impact and positive influence this program had on my life developed a burning desire and passion to serve and help others! This is why Operation Impact means so much to me.
I’ve been participating in Operation Holiday Impact, also known as OHI, for the last 4 years now. It’s the most rewarding feeling that just can’t be explained when you can give back and impact someone’s life in a positive way. This is what Being the change looks like. This for me is VERY personal. I get extremely emotional about it because I remember the joy I experienced as a child and the impact it had on my family. It gave us HOPE and JOY and now I get to be a blessing to others the same way I was blessed.
The first year of OHI, I had a team of 5 people, my husband and I, and 3 other ladies. We had a 6 year old girl and her mom. I will never forget the joy I saw in their eyes when we showed up with 3 big bags of gifts. The mom said to us “wow thank you so much. No one has ever done anything like this for us and God knows I wouldn’t have been able to buy half those things for her.” The little girl was a little shy, but she hugged me so tight. We had an instant connection, and she did not want to let me go. It was at this very moment I truly found my calling. That day I saw myself in her. I still look at the pictures I have of her from time to time praying that they’re ok.
I know for me this is a full circle moment because I didn’t realize then that I would be in the position to create positive waves in my community in a positive way, give back, raise awareness on important topics and impact so many lives. It’s an amazing feeling when my family and friends get involved and get excited to also help in any way they can. Now working with the creative team, I get to share my ideas, thoughts and see more of the work behind the scenes which has been so fulfilling. My goal for the rest of my life is to be a light in this world and continue to be the change I want to see, so I can give hope to the hopeless. I am truly thankful for the people that have crossed my path to help me become the woman I am today and beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with the OI team and continue to share with the world a “cure called contribution.”
– Jodi-Ann Potter