I was asked to speak at Jo Brighton Skills Center today.
I was a little nervous
Jo Brighton provides alternative vocational services for special education students, ages 15 through 26. Amanda attended Jo Brighton. The Center has a café and bake shop where the students can learn about food preparation, cleaning a kitchen, and other service skills. In my book, Amanda, Perfectly Made, I include several stories about Amanda during her time at Jo Brighton. The staff was excited about my book and wanted me to come speak to the students. “We’ve never had a parent [of one of our students] write a book before [about one of the students] !” they exclaimed. I was humbled.
So there I was – in the auditorium of Jo Brighton with three classes of students eagerly waiting to hear from me. <gulp> So what do I talk about? Fortunately, the students had prepared a list of questions. They were good questions and I think I held the audience with my answers for quite some time. But then I made the personal connection…
One of the teachers asked me to tell about Amanda’s time at Jo Brighton and I had the perfect story to share. I asked the students if any of them present had spent time working in the school bakery. I already knew that the school was famous for the cookies they baked and sold and was certain that most of the students had spent time in the bakery. Just about all of them raised their hands in affirmation of the question. I told them the story of the very busy Christmas season at Jo Brighton when people from all over place orders with the Jo Brighton Bakery for cookies. Amanda was working this one particular season and because of her good phone skills, she was put in charge of answering the phone and writing down cookie orders. Finally, the instructors decided to stop accepting any more orders – they had more cookies than they could make already! Even so, when people called and begged for more cookies, the teachers gave in. That’s why they put Amanda on the phone. Rules are rules, and Amanda follows them. The teachers told Amanda to tell callers that the school was not taking any more orders. And she did. The kids got a kick out of the story because they could all relate to it. They laughed as I imitated Amanda saying “No more cookies!”
The students were a delight and I was very impressed. It was sweet how when one girl asked several questions and I found myself not understanding her muffled speech, another girl piped up right away each time with the interpretation. It was just natural. But it was especially more warm and intimate now that we all had the cookie connection. All those kids had worked in the bakery – and now I shared intimately my own cookie bakery story. I was one of them.
When our time was over, the students clapped and one jumped up to present me with a container of…
Wait for it …
Guess ! ….
“COOKIES!” I squealed in delight and exclaimed “You gave me some cookies from your bakery!” and everyone smiled and laughed. I was truly delighted and the kids were as well as I embraced their personal and most marvelous gift.
I was initially worried about not being able to connect with this room full of special young adults. We found our common bond.
Afterwards, I stopped by Amanda’s apartment. I did not tell her that I had spoken at Jo Brighton. She graduated from there a good 6 years ago. I plunked the container of cookies down in front of her. She looked at them and thanked me for bringing her cookies. I told her to look closely at them and tell me what kind they were. “Chocolate Chip” she replied. Well, yeah, the ones on top were chocolate chip. “Where are the cookies from?” I asked her. “Oh! These are Jo Brighton cookies!” she replied.
The cookie connection 🙂
We may all be different, but you can always find something in common.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.