Charley’s World – Episode Fifteen

Charley couldn’t get Nellie out of his mind. From their first encounter until now had been an amazing transformation. He thought to himself about how talent that would never have been discovered would have been wasted if Natty hadn’t knocked on his door. Then Charley had an epiphany that would change the way he thought about the center that he and Nellie were developing. “We aren’t just developing basic skills. We are helping the participants we work with discover their talent.”

Charley reflected on how Nellie’s talent had opened up and wondered if that could be a model that could work with others. It started with Nellie improving her reading ability and that was the result of her developing a joy in learning. When Natty was asked to read the Thanksgiving message, Nellie began to see her own work in a way that she hadn’t seen before. Then when Charley asked her to work with him, there was a tremendous boost in her self-esteem. What Charley had seen in her was a talent for organizing that she didn’t even know she had. That brought him to ask Nellie to expand on the use of her talent.

Thinking about Nellie’s transformation brought him tremendous pride. While Charley loved how the Learning Center had grown, he still missed the direct interaction with participants. “Why can’t I play the role of talent nurturing?” Charley thought to himself. He loved the idea, but he also realized that one experience didn’t give him the experience that he needed.

Charley decided to see whether his experience with Nellie would translate to others. He asked his volunteers to give him some information on those currently in the program. Then he selected five participants to work with. He decided to pick a diversity of participants from those who had shown talent and those who had not. The five he ended up selecting were:

Bea – A 42-year-old woman who was enthusiastic about the skills she was developing.

Richie – A high school student who had been a truant. He was 3 grade levels below where he should be.

Sam – A 24-year-old who had never held a job for more than a year. He had displayed a bad attitude throughout the program and had shoddy attendance.

Gloria – A 50-year-old grandmother who was enthusiastic about learning how to read so that she could share more time with her 7 grandchildren.

Missy – A vivacious teenager who struggled in school but was an enthusiastic participant in the Learning Center.

Charley was excited to get started with the five participants he selected. Now all that was needed was to discover what he needed to do.

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“Talent can’t be taught, but it can be awakened.” – Wallace Stegner (author)

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