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By Dana Romanoff
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REMEMBER THE first time I was in New York, going on a trip with a group of kids at the Church of Harlem, and the aunt of one of the kids said, "We're putting you in the room with Mr. Richardson."
They said, "We don't want to be in a room with that bow tie-wearin', Brooks Brothers suit-wearin' old man."
And she said, "But no, he went to Harvard Business School, you can learn a lot from him."
And they said, "Yeah, but he's in Harlem University now, he's gonna learn from us. We gonna teach him some things."
And I did learn some things, and those young people still call me to this day, and that's over 20 years ago.
So, I feel very blessed indeed for the work that I've done with kids. And I feel blessed that I have a job that allows me the flexibility sometimes in the evenings to work with these kids. Sometimes they're in my office, too, when I'm working till 10, 11 o'clock at night. They're in there at the big table studying for exams or working on essays or whatever. And I'm exposing them to things that they otherwise would not see.
But most of all, it's a mutually beneficial relationship. That's what people don't realize. And I think that in giving and serving, hopefully, when you give and when you serve, you get something in exchange.
I kept feeling this debt that I owed to Fredericksburg for what it provided me, but I also realized I needed to give back where I was. That's sort of like I tell kids all the time. Don't talk about where you're not; you just have to grow where you are.