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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Fulfilling Your Purpose

Pamela J. Oakes

By Pamela J. Oakes

To all my sisters and brothers in success – here’s a bit of motivation to help ignite the entrepreneur in you.   Researchers at Brandeis University report that “half the collective wealth of African-American families was stripped away during the Great Recession.” By the official end of the recession in 2009, the median household net worth for blacks had fallen to a mere $5,677 – compared to $113,149 for white households – in effect, wiping out an entire generation’s worth of hard work and progress. This startling retrenchment, has created the largest wealth, income and employment gaps in recent history and according to that same 2013 report, levels of insecurity continue to remain particularly high for older minorities and single women. With an ultra-conservative administration about to take office, if there was ever a time in history to reclaim your power, be your own boss and generate your own wealth – this is it!

Now is the time to make new friends, gain new insights and travel down new roads that take you farther than you ever expected to go. This is the time to dust off those dreams and big ideas. Unleash your inner magic, empower your own greatness and let your imagination run wild! Sweep away those old fears, self-doubts and anxieties that kept you frustrated and living a small insignificant life. Instead, let this be the year you step into the full measure of your power, purpose and potential.

It takes a bravery to teeter on the precipice of your dreams and lean in without stuttering so whatever you need to do to get organized, get out of your rut, get your ducks in a row, or get your act together – do it! No matter your age, background, education, or skills, there is a purpose for which you, and you alone are uniquely designed to fulfill. If you don’t know what it is – find out!

For many years, I felt like I was just drifting not sure what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go or how I was supposed to get there. I started out with a career in real estate – flipping properties before “flipping” was even a thing! When the news magazine, US News and World Report wanted to feature me in article, I thought for sure I had discovered my raison d’être (…that’s French for “reason for being…)

However, despite the professional success, I still sensed that I was destined for something bigger, something greater than myself. I had the opportunity to participate in a humanitarian mission in Mexico and spent nearly all day laughing and playing games with an adorable bunch of 4-year olds. One of them asked me if I had a mother. When I told her I did, she asked me if I thought my mother would want to adopt them and so they could all be her little girls too? It broke my heart. It was then that I knew my life would be defined by service to others.

It’s been 20 years since that trip to Mexico and all my work, all my travels, all my volunteerism, have all been focused to refine and enrich my Purpose.   In my work with the largest philanthropic organization on the planet, I am on the front lines as billions of dollars are dispersed for social good to uplift the lives of the world’s poor. I absolutely love working with new nonprofits and individuals who are also passionate about changing the world. We are the new world warriors.

You may wonder what impact your purpose, your business or your small nonprofit can have when the problems of the world are so big. But to quote Paul Watson, “I do what I do because it is the right thing to do. I am a warrior, and it is the way of the warrior to fight superior odds.”

PAMELA OAKES is a Nonprofit Strategist, Speaker and Coach currently on assignment as an Associate Program Officer, Strategic Planning and Engagement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Prior to joining the foundation in 2010, Pamela lived several years in Johannesburg, South Africa working for and promoting humanitarian efforts with the I CAN Foundation.  As a Trainer with this NGO, she traveled extensively throughout the African countries of South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Nigeria and Zimbabwe conducting workshops and training seminars for government, corporate, community, and faith-based organizations in the areas of Change Management, Organizational Transformation, Affirmative Action, Employment & Gender Equity, Diversity, HIV/AIDS Awareness, and Personal Empowerment.  A firm believer in “paying it forward,” Pamela has devoted much of her free time volunteering with local initiatives such as the YWCA Housing Stability Program, the Kent Regional Justice Center and the YWCA GirlsFirst Program.  Pamela attended the University of Washington where she majored in Political Science. A native of Seattle, she enjoys travelling the globe, experiencing new cultures and collecting African-American art.

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