In April 2018, the City of Memphis commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We are reminded of his determination for the equality of all and his commitment to service.
“… everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Recognizing that elderly populations are often “counted out” of mainstream society, BCCC developed Seek-To-Serve, a servant leadership project that provides lifelong learning opportunities and capacity-building training for 50+ grassroots leaders. Over 200 persons have graduated from Seek-To-Serve. Some become NSpirers, Seek-To-Serve alumni who support BCCC programs and other community events while inspiring others to lead through service.
In May 2015, BCCC published Don’t Count Me Out: Contending Voices, a collection of compelling stories of struggle and triumph written by NSPIRERS. In writing this book, they articulated often hidden narratives that added significance to their lives while validating their importance in the Memphis community.
Beginning in elementary school, Mae (age ) was labeled a slow learner and relegated to special education classes. She recalled instances when students would pass her classroom and yell at the door “We are crazy,” an offensive tagline frequently used to describe students enrolled in the Work Adjustment Class. She remembered crying herself to sleep many nights with her face buried in a pillow because she felt counted out. In 2005, she joined Seek-to-Serve. Still grappling with experiences from her childhood, Mae was initially reserved and insolated. Through her participation in the project, she gained confidence and significantly improved her speaking and presentation skills through her involvement with the Uptown Toastmasters . Now, she belongs to a community of learners and regularly serves as a BCCC volunteer.
Don’t Count Me Out: Contending Voices was dramatized as a theatre performance at Southwest Tennessee Community College. During the talkback session following the performance, Mae stood center stage to tell her story. The audience was noticeable moved by her poignant and candid talk. Later, she proudly autographed the book, another validation that she deserves to be “counted’” in every segment of the Memphis community.