The moment my leadership class walked into Quantum House, I felt a connection.
Greeting us was a child in a leg splint, looking up from his crutches with a tiny smile. He was accompanied by other smiling children who were living in the West Palm Beach home with their families while receiving treatment in Palm Beach County for serious medical conditions.
I knew right there that I had to do something for those special children who seemed so brave, strong and incredibly upbeat despite everything they’ve been through.
My class went on to tour the House, have a great lunch in the spacious dining room, and engage in a deep discussion about the myriad of challenges facing children in our community. It was a classic Leadership Palm Beach County moment: we got an inside look at a vital local organization and learned what we as leaders could do to support it.
I vowed to return.
A year later I did with my own family. I have two boys, ages 10 and 7, and I wanted them to learn the value of giving back. And so, we prepared, delivered and served a delicious dinner of baked chicken, lasagna and salad for a dozen or so families living there at the time.
My boys didn’t know what to expect, and neither did my wife, Leanne, and I.
Slowly, after a long day at the hospital, the families came out of their rooms for dinner. They were people from California, Russia, China, and Portugal. Some parents carried their babies, others helped their children on crutches. Again, just as during my initial visit, the children somehow managed to smile. They didn’t say much as they filled up their plates and enjoyed a hot meal.
They didn’t have to. The looks on their tired, overwhelmed faces said it all: thank you for doing this.
We were deeply moved.
We didn’t stay much longer. We wanted the families to have private time.
That evening, Quantum House families got a helping hand from us in delivering a healthy meal. But I think we gained more: in the simple act of providing a meal, we made a difference in the lives of these families and that felt great!
Thanks to Leadership Palm Beach County for making that powerful connection.
Leon Fooksman is a member of Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2014.