A Single Encounter Can Change a Life


city-lightsWe all have a story. I will never forget the day as class president when I decided I was going to use my free lunch card and eat, regardless of what my friends might say. Another average day during class, I was offered an opportunity to be a bank teller following graduation. You see, the human resource director for First Alabama Bank just happened to be a volunteer for our high school DECA program where I served in leadership. This single encounter changed the course of my life. Her voice showed me the next step that I could not see.

When I met Wayne Green during a casual lunch a few years ago, his lovely demeanor and his passion to make a difference in the lives of others in his community struck me. The personal challenges he faced during his formative years have driven him to be the difference that his environment did not provide. It was one voice that painted a different reality for his future, one voice that propelled his vision from not only aspiring to personal excellence but being a catalyst so that others can find their voice and their future.

As we talked about his vision, I asked Green a few questions to help us better understand the person behind the passion.

What do you think of when you think of being an everyday hero?

When considering the stereotypical concept of heroism, I do not fit the model. I have never given it a thought because I think  of myself as an average African-American male. The only distinction would be that I believe I have been called, positioned and equipped to work with those who are in distress and desire to make a change in their educational, economic, emotional and spiritual status. I consider myself an enabler (in the positive sense of the word), and my function is to assist those who desire change regardless of their history, current status and position.

Describe what you do in your unique way to impact the lives of others.

Approximately 20 years I was given a vision for community and the role that I was to play in the implementation of that vision. The vision involved the establishment of a culturally relevant organization whose goal was to address economic development, technology, education, and spirituality. The business was to serve as a catalyst for community revitalization and the next generation. Today we have been blessed to acquire a 20,000 square-foot operations center in the North Birmingham Business District (North Birmingham Business Center) and establish a ministry focusing on community service. This summer we launch a technology center dedicated to the technological training of K12 and senior students and are partnering with “Our Brother’s Keeper” (OBK) in serving homeless and near-homeless individuals.

Are there any particular challenges you faced?

The greatest challenge that I have faced is overcoming the image that was perpetuated in me during my early formative years, growing up in less than desirable circumstances with a single mother of five children in one of the worst areas of any city, little or no support from any male figures, struggling to see or define a future other than another public housing community. I wanted to be something other than the examples I witnessed but (had no way of) knowing the options. All the early years were influenced by the drive to be the best because the housing community was always in my rear view mirror.

Was there a particular person who inspired you?

There was a single voice, Dr. Roy Daigle, among all the negatives who said, “You are different, and this can be your future.” This one voice changed my life over 35 years ago. Today, I emulate his voice in young men and women in the worst communities in the City of Birmingham. They are told you can be all that God has destined you to be. Be the one that stands out among the rest, be the difference maker among your friends and acquaintances. A single encounter changed my life, and I believe that my legacy will be left with the single encounters I share with the young men and women of Birmingham.

#ThinkLoveFirst is a global initiative. How do you #ThinkLoveFirst?

This is simple. “Putting others first” and “Loving thy neighbor as thyself.” This is not optional but a mandate.

What advice would you give others about being that light they are destined to be? 

Count the cost for it is a life of sacrifice but the rewards are countless!

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