The definition of leadership is to make a positive difference in the lives of others. We are all leaders, if we choose to be, because leadership is really a choice and not a title. My recent tour of a local long-term care facility helped me see that every person has the ability to make a positive difference in the world, even those with severe physical disabilities.
The Virginia Home is a modern high-rise brick building facing the open spaces of Byrd Park in Richmond. It was founded in 1880’s as the Virginia Home for the Incurables, a place where people can live who need daily assistance due to physical disabilities. There are 130 residents, but only 4 are able to walk. The hallways are wide, designed to accommodate the residents driving their motorized wheelchairs. Even though they require full-time care, residents can attend college classes, create masterpieces of art, and some work and volunteer in the community.
The residents of the Virginia Home are extremely grateful to live in a place where food and housing are secure for them. As a result, they feel like it is important for them to give back to the community, with an annual event called the Aquathon.
The Aquathon is a charity event where the Virginia Home residents solicit pledges from their friends and family for the number of laps they will swim in the Home’s pool. Some swim on their own, and others are assisted, according to their abilities. Each year, a different charity (usually related to providing food or housing) is chosen by the residents to receive the donations. I was inspired to hear that the amounts raised each year are between $10,000 and $15,000! The charities receiving the checks are always surprised by the size of the donation.
The staff members at the Virginia Home make a positive difference in the lives of each of the residents, providing an opportunity for them to live their lives with dignity and respect. The residents themselves choose to make a positive difference in the lives of those in the community, raising money through swimming laps in a pool. What can each of us do to make a positive difference in the life of another?