Rachel Reflects on 10 Years

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As I write this, we’ve embarked upon a new year: it’s 2019 already, and I marvel over the ways my life has changed, morphed, and grown over the past decade. I graduated from my beloved alma mater, Pepperdine University, in 2008, and in the midst of a nationwide economic downturn, I struggled to find ways to put my hard-earned journalism degree to use. I took interview after interview only to learn that most media companies had hiring freezes and wouldn’t be on-boarding new employees for months.

Looking back, I see how God orchestrated this moment so perfectly for me. While in that tumultuous time, I felt frustrated and discouraged. I took on several part-time jobs, cobbling together a way to pay for living expenses while continually on the hunt for a full-time opportunity. There was an underlying sense of peace, though, knowing I was doing everything I could to take the next step forward. In the meantime, I had met Touch A Life’s Co-Founder, Pam Cope, on Pepperdine’s campus the month before I graduated. She spoke passionately about the work Touch A Life was doing, and she made an open call for students to join her on a trip to Ghana that summer. I mulled over the possibility, and after weeks of being turned down for job after job, I made the case to my parents that I wanted—nay, needed!—to do something that took the focus off of myself and put life into perspective. My mom and I both decided to book our plane tickets to Ghana to join the group that would be serving children there that summer.

Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown, 2010
Photo by Nancy Borowick

And, as the say, the rest is history. I fell in love with Touch A Life’s mission and work, and as I had participated in a two-year-long Social Action and Justice Colloquium and several internships with nonprofit organizations at Pepperdine, I had a heart for charitable endeavors. God put the puzzle pieces of Touch A Life’s employee-related needs + my skill set + the Copes’ trust in me together, resulting in a job with an organization I had come to cherish so dearly. In January 2009, I joined the Touch A Life team full-time as the Director of Project Development.

Since then, I have learned so much from the children we serve, the staff we work alongside in Ghana, and the supporters we walk with as we raise funds and awareness for this wonderful cause. Borrowing a phrase from the Mocha Club, we always muse that we need the children more than they need us, that they have impacted our lives in irretrievable ways.

Here is what Touch A Life has taught me (and continues to teach me):

  1. There is no act that is too small to make a difference in the lives of others.
  2. When we work together, we achieve the most good.
  3. Serving others is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.
  4. It’s a good idea to pack a few extra sets of clothes in your carry-on luggage when traveling abroad. (You never know where those checked bags may end up!)
  5. A slower pace, one that is demonstrated so beautifully in daily life in Ghana, provides refuge and peace from the busyness of packed schedules, like the ones we place high value on in the United States.
  6. Passions and talents have been given to you—unique you!—so that you can make a difference in the world. Whether you are a doctor or an artist, a therapist or a carpenter, a musician or a dentist, a receptionist or a teacher, an entrepreneur or a homemaker—there is a place for you where your specific passions and talents are needed. There is a place where you—unique you!—can serve. The world needs you.
  7. A full calendar does not equate to a well-lived life.
  8. God answers prayers in mysterious, beautiful ways; His plan for our lives is so much better than anything we ever could have dreamed.
  9. Home is where you leave your heart.
  10. A life filled with gratitude creates an undercurrent of peace and hope that sustains us on even our darkest days.

In celebration of my 10-year anniversary with Touch A Life, I am seeking to raise $10,000 for this amazing organization that has stolen my heart—and possibly yours, too! I’ve learned so much from my time at Touch A Life, and I hope to learn even more in the next 10, 20, 30 years…as Buzz Lightyear would say, to infinity and beyond!

Visit TouchALifeKids.org/Give to donate.

Rachel Brown
Development Director

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