Not feeling very well on Tuesday morning, I dreaded the idea of going to another stuffy dinner. My head was pounding, and I had not yet written my editorial. It was one of those days when you get most of what you need to get done accomplished, but only just. By around 3 p.m., I was done. I felt I couldn’t do another thing, and I did not want to go to this dinner that I hardly knew anything about. But when my colleagues said just don’t go, I said that was impossible. I knew it was going to be a small, intimate gathering where the hosts had planned out each table meticulously.

Then my colleague asked, “Do you have any chocolate?” and I replied, “In the box over there. Get me one, too.” After I had that piece of chocolate, my mood lightened and I realized that I had not had any caffeine that day and I’d been suffering a caffeine headache that the chocolate cleared. So then, bright and refreshed, I made my way to this dinner, now excited for the possibilities.

As I climbed up the steps of the magnificent club where the dinner was held, I was greeted by the three hosts, all of whom I had met before. I moved around the room talking about Sweden, sailboats, horses, education, archives and newspapers.

There were many people that I knew and many that I would get to know much better during the evening, but from the onset you knew this was a group to reckon with. Within the room there was change going on all around. While social in nature, there was an air of responsibility and a need to make sure that there was really a chance for future generations.

As we sat at our tables, five tables of eight, we began the small talk that those that do not know each other do. The conversation moved from topic to topic, but for some reason it always came back to education. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we had two educators at the table, along with two communications professionals, a physician, and an executive at a foundation that focuses on education and a child psychologist.

Books were central to the discussion. We discussed how important it was for children to have books in their hands. We talked about the need for parents to learn that reading to their children was of the utmost importance and that books could forever enrich children’s lives.

One of the women at the table brought up a program that takes place in Brooklyn called “Wash and Learn.” It brings books into Laundromats and has volunteers read to and with the children while their parents do the wash. Something so simple, but yet so impactful can change a child’s life.

Dudley, who was sitting next me, began to discuss the challenges of raising a Black child with special needs. He and his wife navigated a system that many just give up on to make sure their child got the education he deserved and now have a son who will be able to fully participate in society. I told them that they needed to write the book about their experiences. They said they had been told that many times, but now, I think they will. They can help so many other families navigate through that difficult process. They are an

inspiration.

The conversation then took another turn. It went to medicine. The gentleman to my right was an internist; he said that they are a dying breed. Everyone going into medicine today wants to specialize, and that’s creating a lack of general practitioners who take care of patients on a day-to-day basis. Dudley, sitting to my right, lamented that he could never get a call back from his doctor and that he hardly ever got a live person on the phone. He told us how a physician he used to go to now charges a “membership fee” of $3,000 to be a patient. The doctor said that that was the only way he could practice medicine the way he wanted to. Dudley didn’t like the idea, but is seriously thinking about it because he can never get through to his doctor. I said to Dudley, if you can afford it, you should do it, but only if the doctor gives some of his time to a clinic or another institution that serves people in need.

I know that was a tangent, but it all goes back to giving back. Each of us has something to give back, and if we insist on those who are around us give back, too, we will make this world a better place. If each of us helps when we can, we bring each other up. We meet people everyday, and by our meeting them something has changed, and we can connect them to someone else who can help yet another.

Everyone has something to give; everyone needs someone to give something, if we work together and really listen to what is going on in the lives of those we meet, however briefly, we can change this word. Whether it is going to the bone marrow drive to see if you are a match to help little 6-year-old Jasmina Anema, who has an aggressive form of leukemia, giving up a day of work to volunteer at a local not-for-profit or raising money for a program that will help the community, each one of us can make a difference. Maybe it is just introducing one friend to another and together they may make a difference. Use your connections to make new bridges between people and change the world. With a perfect storm of connections, you can make a difference.