I Felt Strong
We meet a lot of people – too many to be able to recount or remember. Some of them are with us for a good time, some are with us for a long time and some of them leave an imprint on us for a lifetime. Cassie is like that for me.There is something very deflating when you feel like you are just another face, another story or another number to contend with. One of our desires in LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) is for each person that we work with and for knows that they are invaluable; no one can take their place. We believed this in theory, but Cassie has helped me to better understand what that can look like in reality. Cassie has traveled with us to Dominican Republic and Thailand, as well as interning with us in the summer of 2008. Always, she has been an incredible encouragement to those around her. Last week, a hand written letter showed up in the mail addressed to me; it was from Cassie. Within that envelope was incredible insight into what motivated her to be a part of Hero Holiday. But, even more than that, it gave me insight into who she truly is.Cassie grew up on the West Coast of Canada. Like many Canadian teenagers, she struggled with who she was and where she fit in in the world around her. Unlike many of her counterparts, she decided to see what she could do to change where she found herself. The first time we met her was in 2005 at the Canadian Student Leadership Conference (CSLC). We were the ones on the stage and she was one of the hundreds of faces in the crowd.The first time I saw you speak was in 2005 at CSLC. I was in a really rough place at the time, fighting with an eating disorder and extremely low self esteem. Your presentation was one of the highlights of that week and really did make me feel like I had a purpose. When I got back to school I started slipping again, but then the real turning point came when I went on my first Hero Holiday in the summer of 2006 to Dominican Republic. Four years later, that is still one of the best weeks of my life. I felt strong, capable, and like I really could make a difference.I wanted to take the time to thank everyone at LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) for the amazing amount of effort and passion you put in every day. In the three years I went on Hero Holidays, I never once felt unsafe and always felt like I had lots of people I could turn to for support of any kind.To everyone at LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute), thank you for everything. You are some of the best, most caring people I have ever met. I hope you know this and that you hear it enough.Why does her letter mean so much to me? Because Cassie’s story has been one I have encountered over and over again across Canada and around the world. It is the story of hope, freedom, and ultimately, the realization that there is so much more to live for when we are willing to believe in what we can become. Today, Cassie is finishing up university and getting ready to go out into the world to continue to change it from another angle, and we are proud to know her for who she truly is: a young woman of incredible purpose.Life is a gift and each of us, like Cassie, has the opportunity to decide what to do with that gift. Thanks, Cassie, for being so honest with us and for being willing to allow the truth of who you are outshine everything else.To find out more about LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) and our programs, check out www.livedifferent.com.