October 14, 2016
By Vince Loran, Fellow
As a Bravo 2016 Fellow, I’m doing so many things right now that it’s hard to keep track sometimes! But I wanted to share an update on what I’m doing and where I’m going — and most importantly, why I’m doing it. I serve on the Board of Directors of a nonprofit organization, Fifty Shades of Purple against Bullying. I’m also volunteering as a Wounded Warrior Project Peer Support Group facilitator in Northern Virginia. I’m also a Fellow, volunteering at the United Way. But to understand all the things I am doing now, I need to give you a glimpse of the person I have become.
A Little About My Background
The environment I grew up in while living in New York and Puerto Rico showed me the effects and realities of poverty, drug infestation, and the lack of resources and good role models in the community I lived in. I did not see myself living in this environment forever, so I turned to the military, which was my escape and saving grace.
So in February 1986, I left the concrete jungle and enlisted. My experience in the military taught everyone to focus on something bigger than each individual. This became part of my DNA, and began my journey in helping others.
Getting Started With My New Mission
Fast forward to today. Not long ago, I made a decision to leave my job in the federal government to focus my attention and motivation on helping youth and veterans. I knew it was time to live out my passion, and the word “Passion” is my personal mission statement: Personally committed to helping others, Appreciate, value and respect all walks of life, Speak to empower, enlighten and motivate, Service before Self, Inclusion where I live and operate, Ownership in all I do and Nothing will stand in my way!
I joined Fifty Shades of Purple against Bullying to commit to my passion by helping those affected by bullying, and more importantly, helping those doing the bullying to change their behavior. I believe bullying is the gateway to discrimination, homophobia, xenophobia, physical and mental abuse and worse case injuring and/or killing others or losing a bright soul to suicide.
My motivation is fueled by the acts of hate, disrespect towards others and senseless crimes we currently witness week in and week out in the news and social media outlets. They serve as relentless reminders of my unwavering devotion, commitment and drive to transform individuals and strive to become an inclusive community.
I’m also volunteering as a Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Peer Support Group (PSG) facilitator in Northern Virginia. The mission of these PSG’s is to empower WWP Alumni by building camaraderie, creating awareness of issues they are struggling with, learning ways to deal with everyday life challenges, and personal recovery. I strongly feel that we need to support one another, strengthen bonds through shared experiences, and work on ways to find solutions to the challenges we face that stemmed from our military service. I will jump in the foxhole with my fellow warrior and work together to seek a solution to get out.
My Fellowship with The Mission Continues
In April 2016 I embarked on my fellowship at the United Way Worldwide in Alexandria, Virginia, which has been an invaluable experience summed up by the following: obtaining a great pool of contacts, increasing my knowledge of nonprofit organizations, and sharpening my skills.
I gravitated to this phenomenal organization because of their mission to create opportunities for all regarding education, income, and health — “the building blocks for a good quality of life and strong community.”
These last 5 months have given me the internal fortitude to jump with both feet to tackle whatever is in store for me in the future. In five years, I hope to continue to contribute to our youth by creating a curriculum that transforms after-school programs and youth camps. It’s critical to supplement what I believe is missing in the education system and at home.
I am constantly working to improve my own self-worth, cultural competencies and emotional intelligence all in the effort to become an adaptable resilient citizen leader. In addition to my mission statement “PASSION”, I have carved in stone my motto “Building Bridges of Understanding and Tearing Down Walls of Separation.” I will succeed, and when I fall, these words and our youth will keep me going. I’ll dust myself off and continue the mission!
Nothing will stand in my way, I am fueled by my passion and my life’s mission.
Let me leave you with one word, Ubauntu. An African word that can be described and pretty much translates into the idea-I am who I am because of who we all are. And we are who we are because who I am. It talks about the interconnectedness of us all. It is one step beyond I am my brothers and sisters keeper, it is my brother and sister and they are me. I see you I see myself. When you look at yourself next time, see me.