Each year, in cooperation with the Boston YMCA and in conjunction with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, we present Black Achiever awards to members of our staff who have made significant contributions to the workplace and their community. We also invite a guest to offer a keynote address, and this year it was Rev. Dr. Michael E. Haynes, Senior Pastor Emeritus, at Roxbury's Twelfth Baptist Church. Rev. Haynes was a personal friend of Dr. King's, having met during the latter's training at Boston University. It was inspiring and enlightening to hear stories from that period.
Equalling inspiring, though, was the acceptance speech delivered by Dr. Yvonne Gomez-Carrion, an obstetrician in our hospital. I asked her for permission to post it here, and I include it in its totality.
Good afternoon! I am truly honored and humbled to be here today with all of you to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to accept this Black Achiever award. I thank Dr. Ronald Marcus, my mentor and friend, for nominating me and for the committee for choosing me.
I have worked hard all of my life, and I have received so many, many blessings.
Yes, I have always loved being challenged. I love giving orders, and I love helping others work through difficult situations.
At age 8, I realized my calling: I wanted to be a doctor. So many individuals went out of their way to impress upon me how hard this path would be, and many told me that I would never make it as a physician, a healer.
I encountered so many negative people along my journey. The naysayers seemed to be everywhere, BUT those folks were trumped by my parents, many incredible mentors and dreamers like myself who inspired, promoted and assisted me at every opportunity .
I have been blessed to have friends who ARE encouraging, positive and like me, want to make a significant contribution to this world, to our community.
When I was told that I wasn't smart enough or that I couldn't go to the schools that I attended because my parents would not be able to pay, well I studied, received academic scholarships, and I sought out jobs that would give me insight into the medical world.
Growing up, I would get angry about the condition of my community in Brooklyn, NY, the lack stores with fresh and nutritious foods, the abundance of fast food and liquor stores, the lack of good medical and dental care and the many challenges to obtaining a good education.
The more angry I became, the harder I worked.
I never gave up: WITH HELP, I figured it out!
I appreciate that everyone needs to chart their own path. You need to figure out what you have passion for, what will bring you joy and satisfaction while giving back to your community.
I received countless valuable messages. These messages were pounded into my head by those who nurtured me.
They would say:
*Stick to your values.
*Don't let others define who you are.
*Surround yourself with positive people... My dad would always tell me, "Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are."
*Don't give up because things get rough.
*Have faith in yourself.
Life is full of disappointments and tragedies -- these provide the lessons that we must receive in order to grow.
I thank God for my family, friends, my amazing church community, my medical colleagues and my patients.
It is because of YOU that I stand here this afternoon!
Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I, too, dream and I challenge. Today, I challenge each and every one of you to:
*Seek out a child who is suffering from the ills of poverty, dangerous communities and substandard education.
*Seek out a child of color.
*Seek out a child with a learning difference.
*Seek out a child who feels that violence is the way.
REMEMBER, compassionate mentoring has the power to change and enrich another's life.
I AM A LIVING EXAMPLE OF THAT!
I will leave you with one of my favorite prayers, an "old healing prayer" from Central America:
Do all the good that you can
In all the ways that you can
By all the means that you can
To all the people that you can
In all the places that you can
For as long as ever YOU can
Thank you very much!!!