Richard Cherry Remarks for GCF Graduation

November 11, 2010  |   Posted by :   |   Blog   |   Comments Off on Richard Cherry Remarks for GCF Graduation»

Richard Cherry, President and CEO of Community Environmental Center, spoke at Green City Force’s graduation on November 9th, 2010. Mr. Cherry has been a staunch supporter of GCF since the beginning of 2009. It is no stretch to say that his support has been essential to the development of GCF and its graduates. It was, therefore, a momentous occasion for him to see the fruits of his support in the graduates.

Richard Cherry

Richard Cherry, President and CEO of Community Environmental Center

Shockingly, this is his first speech ever to a graduating class. In this wonderful speech he advised the graduates on their future life plans:

“Thank you so much.

It has been an enormous pleasure for us at CEC to work with the corps members and the staff of Green City Force.

GCF has become a national model: it is demonstrating how underemployed and unemployed young adults in urban communities can acquire practical skills, so they can find jobs and establish careers in the emerging green marketplace.  By supporting GCF, we are supporting the greatest resource this country has—its young people—and it is these young people, like today’s graduates, who will then help us transform this economy  into a green economy.

So let me give my personal congratulations and the congratulations of all of us at CEC to you wonderful graduates. You have every reason to feel very proud of what you have accomplished. You encountered new physical and intellectual challenges and met them head-on. You met people you had never met before, went into their homes and apartments, and got them to trust you to look into their refrigerator and stove. You also learned how hot it is on a roof in the summer, and got white paint all over you and did it with enthusiasm because you understand the critical need to deal with our climate crisis.

And while you were learning new, practical skills, you probably learned things about yourselves that you never knew before. What you learn about yourself might be more important than any of the practical skills. One of the most important things about yourself to  remember is that you can walk into an unfamiliar situation and have the discipline and the smarts, and the tenacity, to see it through.

Rick Cherry with Justin Green of BIG and GCF Executive Director, Lisbeth Shepherd

Rick Cherry (L) with Justin Green of BIG and GCF Executive Director, Lisbeth Shepherd

I remember my own graduations. I felt proud of myself but I also was a bit scared. I remember thinking, here I was being congratulated but what was I going to do now? How was I going to find a job, support myself?

You never can really know what the future has in store for you.  You never know when an opportunity will come your way. But what’s really important is to be ready for it. And you’ve all taken that first step. You have demonstrated that you can learn new skills; that you can work with others as a team; that you can meet people and get them to trust you. These are important life skills that will be needed in any job you take on.

And you have just begun to learn about what interests you. Maybe today you want to be an energy technician or auditor; or maybe a salesperson for a solar company; or maybe you liked hot roofs so much you want to be a roof painter. Hey, maybe you want my job! Or Olga’s. The world is open to you now. You have made that first important step.

You got through the last six months; you will do the next six and all the six months after. Something my mother used to say: You did yesterday; you will be able to do tomorrow.

And let me also say, that it is alright if your next job is not a green job.  Not everyone wants to or can be doing green things. You will need to go where the opportunity is. Hey, if everyone had a green job, we couldn’t get a haircut anywhere or get a drink at the bar.

This brings me to what I want to ask from you. It’s the pay back that you have to make for having had the opportunity to be part of Green City Force and working for CEC. Climate change is the most urgent crisis facing the world today.  Being a GCF graduate is a privilege—and it is also a responsibility. You are now a soldier in the war against irresponsible wasteful living. I ask that no matter what road life takes you down, don’t forget to live your own life responsibly and do what you can to spread the word to others. You now have a little bit of knowledge, keep learning, and spread that knowledge around like you spread the coating on the roof.

The best of luck to you all!”

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