WHO I AM MAKES A DIFFERENCE®
By: Helice “Sparky” Bridges
Story featured in Chicken Soup For The Soul and made into a television movie that aired nationwide on PAX TV
A teacher in New York decided to honor each of her high school seniors for the difference they made in her life. Then she presented each of them with a Blue Ribbon imprinted with gold letters, which read, “Who I Am Makes a Difference.”®
Afterwards the teacher gave each of the students three more ribbons to acknowledge others, to see what impact it would have in their community. They were to follow up on the results, see who honored whom and report back to the class the following week.
One of the students honored a junior executive in a nearby company for helping him with his career planning. The student gave him a blue ribbon and put it on his shirt just over his heart. Then the boy gave him two extra ribbons, explained their class project on acknowledgment and enlisted the executive’s help.
Later that day the junior executive went in to his boss and told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon and would he give him permission to put it on him. His surprised boss said, “Well, sure.” After placing the ribbon above his boss’ heart, he asked him to support the efforts of the class project and pass on the extra ribbon.
That night the grouchy boss went home to his 14-year-old son and sat him down. He said, “The most incredible thing happened to me today. I was in my office and one of the junior executives came in and told me he admired me and gave me this blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine. He thinks I’m a creative genius. Then he put this blue ribbon that says ‘Who I Am Makes a Difference’® on my jacket above my heart. Next he gave me an extra ribbon and asked me to find somebody else to honor. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about whom I would honor with this ribbon and I thought about you, son. I want to honor you.”
“My days are really hectic and when I come home I don’t pay a lot of attention to you. Sometimes I scream at you for not getting good enough grades in school or for your bedroom being a mess. But somehow tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me. Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life. You’re a great kid and I love you!”
The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn’t stop crying. His whole body shook. He walked over to a drawer, pulled out a gun, stared at his father and, through his tears said, “I was planning on committing suicide tomorrow, Dad, because I didn’t think you loved me. Now I don’t need to.”
Copyright © 1988 Helice Bridges