Summer seems to be a time of great reflection, but often it is not the season but events that happen in the Summer. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to officiate the marriage of two wonderful people, one of whom I have known since she was a sophomore at Clemson University through the Circle K student leadership program.
I really got to know Anita Iari at a Fall Rally conference near Carowinds in Rock Hill, SC when I was a new Assistant District Administrator for Circle K. That Saturday was filled with activities at a nearby park, with games, scavenger hunts, and trivia done in a style of a reality game show (minus the heatstroke and bug-eating). Anita was on the district board as a committee chairperson, and she came to me late in the afternoon as I was cleaning up from grilling dinner for about 60 people. “Jeff, I need your help,” a fairly soft-spoken Anita said. “I lost my car keys.”
Anita went on to explain that it was a special kind of key that a locksmith wouldn’t be able to duplicate, and her parents would have to mail the other set of keys to her from New Jersey. And so Anita, I, and several volunteers searched all of the fields, parking lots, and wooded areas Anita had been that whole day with no luck. After a few hours, the sun went down and the park was closing. No keys. So we went back to the hotel where everyone was staying, and I checked the Internet. Dawn was at 5:40 a.m., so Anita and I agreed (her, very reluctantly) to be up and packed by 5:15 a.m. and on the road back to the park at 5:30 a.m. to continue to look for her car keys.
Sure enough, at 5:15 a.m. I and a very sleepy Anita went back out to the park to look for her keys. Our deadline was about 7:30 a.m. before we had to go over to Carowinds theme park for the Sunday activities. Within about 20 minutes of looking, Anita found her keys on the path from yesterday’s “home base” to the open field we used for some activities. With some time to spare, we got a chance to stop at a Hardee’s for breakfast and I got to talk to Anita about Circle K, where she wanted to be in Circle K, and what she wanted to do when she graduated. Anita had plans of going to medical school, but she was concerned about her grades. In Circle K, she wanted to be more involved but had some concerns about larger leadership positions. And she was pretty adamant about wanting to move back to New Jersey when she graduated.
That was seven years ago. Well, I’m happy to report that two concerns weren’t relevant, and she reached two of her three goals. Anita is now a medical school student in South Carolina, and she went on to be Circle K governor overseeing all Circle K clubs in North and South Carolina. She also met Patrick Register, and moving back to New Jersey just didn’t happen. In addition, Anita is now part of the medical school’s student government, and I will be helping her put on a leadership development training weekend for her medical school and its larger sister school in Virginia for the Fall. She has gone from a soft-spoken public speaker to someone who has no trouble saying what is on her mind. She has also become extraordinarily organized, right down to having a minute-to-minute itinerary for her wedding with tasks assigned to various people. Even so, she still occasionally misplaces her car keys.
And I have to say that being the officiant at her and Patrick’s wedding was an honor and a privilege. It was great seeing both of their families so happy to witness their vows, and, for me, looking back is a great affirmation that all of the volunteer work that Kathy I do in some small way helped a wonderful person like Anita find her way to help others as a Doctor and volunteer in the community.