Washington, DC

National Make a Difference Day

Colleen Sheehy Orme

Women in broadcasting studioPhoto by George Milton from Pexels

I remember walking into the newsroom. I wouldn't say I was starstruck but I was awestruck. I was intent on absorbing the four walls before me. The excitement, the pace, and the stories. A pageant-like display of movers and shakers rushed past me. One and then another, and another. I stood instinctively and nervously frozen.

There were too many to count.

Until one stopped.

I gazed from side to side and then behind me. But no one was there. This welcoming smile was meant for me. He said a few words. Ones I no longer remember. My shock and his kindness would supersede them.

No one else took notice of the girl who didn't belong.

I've never forgotten Horace Holmes. The on-air personality who caught a novice in his headlights. In the room where lights shine on you, fade away, burn brightly...and fade again. Not while he was at WMAR in Baltimore or WJLA in Washington, D.C.

He would have no reason to remember me. At that time, I was a contract worker. I was at WMAR-TV for a year. I alternated between several departments. I worked with a well-known anchor, Susan White-Bowden in an assistant capacity. She was beloved and received a significant amount of mail. Together we read and responded to the legions of viewers who sought her connection.

I moved to Baltimore to get married.

Ironically, I was a writer but I majored in business.

WMAR was a stop I made before my time. Years later I would become a freelance journalist, business columnist, and relationship columnist. And watch Horace Holmes on the ABC affiliate, WJLA-TV from my native Washington, D.C. metropolitan area home.

Maya Angelou once said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

It's funny the things you remember.

Pivotal moments in life mean more to one than the other. For Horace Holmes, it was another day at work. I was a young girl in a new town who knew no one. Even more invisible in a newsroom full of talent. In an industry where there's a vast distinction between the higher and lower ups.

National Make a Difference Day falls on October 22, 2022, this year.

It's observed on the fourth Saturday in October. Make a Difference Day originated in 1992 via USA Weekend magazine. The now-former publication was affiliated with USA Today which is owned by Gannett. This day of service and volunteerism was orchestrated in conjunction with the non-profit Points of Light. George H.W. Bush founded Points of Light in 1990 to encourage the same fundamental principle, to give back through service and community.

One person makes a difference in another person's life.

It's not October yet. It's not even the fall. But I felt compelled to share this story. Maybe it's because Make a Difference Day occurs on my birthday. It made me reflect. To synchronize the service to others with those who have rendered kindness to me.

Unknowingly being of service to me.

That's the thing about making a difference in another person's life.

Sometimes it's an organized event or effort. Sometimes it's focused and intentional. Sometimes it's answering a cry for help. Sometimes it's a national effort celebrated once a year to mobilize the masses for a greater impact.

And sometimes it's a way of life. While a pageant-like display of movers and shakers rush by. One and then another, and another. A display of courtesy, grace, and goodwill. A friendly smile, warm words, generosity, an open door, or an opportunity. An effortless moment for one that diminishes the worries of another.

Because you stopped.


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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a National Relationship Columnist, freelance journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, relationships, and self-restoration. She has spent more than a decade in research and counseling on the topics of divorce, relationships, and Narcissistic personality disorder.

Reston, VA

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