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A man is taking a solitary walk on the beach and notices the beach is littered with starfish; starfish which have washed ashore and which need water to survive. He also notices a little boy frantically running from beach starfish to beach starfish, picking each one up and throwing them back, one by one, into the ocean.
After walking for a few minutes, the man approaches the little boy and asks, “What are you doing?” And the little boy responds, “I’m throwing the starfish back into the water so they can live.” Gently and remorsefully the man shakes his head and tells the boy, “There are too many starfish, son. What difference will throwing a few back, make?”
The boy pauses for only a moment before bending over, retrieving another helpless starfish and flinging it gently back into the sea. “I made a difference to that one”
This story first came across my radar last year when I wrote a magazine article on how the role of “Guidance Counselors,” now called School Counselors, has evolved over the years. I won’t go into deep detail, but I can assure you that these men and women are the unsung heroes of Middle School and High School. Gone are the days of helping kids discover what they want to be when they grow up and their stretched thin days are spent working with students on a socio/emotional/mental health level.
The starfish story was relayed to me when I asked how in the world three people (the number of counselors in our local Middle School) can service over 600 kids and I was profoundly moved by its compassion.
The same story moves me to near-tears in light of the world right now.
“Our guidance and support program within the school system is social/emotional learning at its finest,” School Counselor, Alison Medec noted. “Each of the three counselors at the middle school level has roughly 630 students assigned to each of us. We all wish there were more of us. Sometimes it feels like we are skimming the surface with some kids because we are spread so thin. But I do have hope that there will be more counselors put in place in the years to come because the bottom line is; it would only benefit the kids. When the sheer numbers of the kids we help become overwhelming, I remember the story of the little boy who was rescuing beached starfish by throwing them back into the sea. When a passerby commented that throwing a handful of starfish back wasn’t going to make a difference, the little boy responded by tossing one more lucky starfish back into the water and commenting, ‘I made a difference to that starfish.’”
At the end of the day, I am sure anyone in the education field would agree with the combination of being able to form one-on-one relationships with kids, and see those same kids bloom and grow, is the best reward of all.
My takeaway is that, for those of us working hard to live a more intentional life, The Starfish Story is a call to duty. It’s knowing that each life you touch matters, even if it is only one. It’s known that if we are showing up in life, even if we are just one woman —one person — we can effect change as an individual.
How about you? What starfish will you deliver to safety and make a difference with today?
More Resources to Help You Along Your Side Hustle Journey
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