Our Employment area is under the supervision of Director LeRoy Page. He works with other Wayne Township Trustee Office staff and outside business personnel to assist clients in attaining employment. Getting a job is not just about putting in applications. In our weekly employment training classes we help with resumes, interviewing skills, job leads, health issues, hygiene and many other things. We have motivational speakers to inspire. On October 23, 2013, Vernard Hollins visited with us and spoke about his aspirations, goals, and achievements. I knew Vernard when he was a young child and was excited that he would be speaking to our training class.
Vernard, "Nard" as he likes to be called, discussed the book he authored, "The Disease Didn't Kill the Dream." In it he talked about his life as a teenager and a young adult. There was a lot of adversity early in his life that he had to overcome to achieve his goals. As a teenager, here in Fort Wayne, he attended to his ailing father while completing high school. Sports were always a big part of his life; Vernard and his father, Coach Tharnell "Big Red" Hollins, shared some of the same dreams relating to a professional career in sports for him, but he was disappointed his first year in college when he failed to pass the SAT and was "red-shirted" (not allowed to play).
Someone once told Vernard that "school isn't for everyone, maybe it's not for you," but Vernard wanted to be the first person in his family to get a college degree and he was determined to fight through to that goal. He said he "made school be for me." After graduating from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Vernard went on to play professional basketball in several countries, including Macedonia, Mexico, Turkey, Germany, Hungary, France, Switzerland, and Austria.
In his talk, Vernard shared some of the secrets of his success. He tries to be "self-motivated, self-disciplined, and...an example for others." "When things are going wrong," he asked, "are you going to give up, or are you going to fight? The sky is the limit, but you've got to have a vision to get to the next level."
For Vernard failure is not an option. I can see that he is wise enough not to let other's expectations limit him. "People judge you but they don't know what your vision is. No one else can set your limits." He is like some of our clients who have setbacks in their lives but are "driven enough to get up and keep fighting after being knocked down."
Vernard readily acknowledges and thanks family, friends, teammates and coaches who have encouraged and helped him throughout his life. He fondly remembers hearing his father's support with, "Son, you played a good game tonight." There are many lessons to be learned from Vernard: appreciate your family, know that there is adversity in life, and that you can rebound from it. Cherish those who encourage you. Set goals, then work to achieve them. Always give 100%, or you will "short change" yourself. Be proud of achieving your goals. Acknowledge and thank those who have helped you along the way.
This month our outside sign reads, "Freedom is not free. Take time to thank a Veteran." Because of our veterans we are free to set goals and work to achieve them, like Vernard did. Celebrate this Veteran's Day by thanking a vet for his or her service to our country.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee