Steve Rakitt, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, honored us June 8 at our Annual Appreciation and Graduation Event with a beautiful message to our graduates. Steve has been an inspirational Sunflower Bakery advocate and has had a significant impact on expanding the leadership role of the Jewish community in providing greater access to services and programming for individuals of all abilities. Steve has been integral to helping establish and grow Cafe Sunflower. Here are his remarks:
It is such a pleasure to be with all of you tonight. Congratulations to the award winners and to our graduates. To the proud family members here tonight, you are witnessing your loved ones reach yet another milestone and achievement of personal potential.
Our challenge and our mandate – all of us – is to help those around us – family, friends, co-workers – achieve their potential. We do, as the song goes, “get by with a little help from our friends.”
Now, there ARE times when a person’s potential is hidden – so that the person – him or herself, or those around them – might be unaware of their capabilities.
Maybe we’ve been subjected to criticism, we’ve failed too often, never had sufficient support or never pushed ourselves beyond our comfort zones.
Imagine if each of us could be a mentor to another, someone who “lights up” the potential in others, to help him or her flourish and thrive. And imagine if we went beyond just ״lighting up” so that he or she is no longer dependent on our inspiration. He is “lit up” – as a Talmudic commentator says – “until the flame rises by itself on his own accord.”
That is what Sunflower Bakery does every day.
By supporting, encouraging, training, and preparing young adults for employment, Sunflower lights up – and raises up – countless lives. You touch not only today’s graduates, but those who came yesterday and will come tomorrow. Not only your clients, but also their families. Not only the clients and families, but the customers. And not only the clients, families, and customers, but the whole community.
When he was negotiating with Pharoah for the release of the Children of Israel, Moses said that, “We will ALL go, young and old, with our sons and daughters, our flocks and herds.” Pharoah said, “No,” and offered that the people could leave, but their animals must stay. Moses said, “No.”
More expansively, Moses was saying, “To get to our Promised Land, we have to bring every ONE, every THING in our community.” We have to bring all that we have, all that we are, in order to become all that we can be.”
Congratulations to Bruno, Dillon, Jasmine, Tatiana, Chaya, Douglas, Daniel, Sara, Drew, Jonathan and Jason. As you continue to amaze and inspire us, you are helping us – each of us – become all that we can be as we move a bit closer to the Promised Land.