A Letter from our Founder
If you’re reading this, you should know it’s by no coincidence.
My name is Ben Goodstein, but that hasn't always been my name, and I'll get to that. But first, let me tell you a short story about two concepts I've thought about since I was a young boy; chance and purpose. I’ve come to realize that together these two concepts work miracles. If you can read these words right now, I’m happy to report they’ve worked miracles for you too! Let me explain.
I was born in San Salvador, El Salvador in 1986. My birth mother was a servant for a married man, became pregnant by him, and when she began to show her pregnancy was fired. She was poor, now didn’t have a job, and couldn’t afford to take care of me. Fortunately, El Salvador was and still is, a predominantly Catholic country and most women, even when they don’t have the financial means to take care of their children themselves, choose to keep their babies to term and don’t have an abortion- I thank God for that fact every day. Now with a baby she couldn’t afford to take care of she had to decide what to do with me. I sometimes think about that moment in her life and all the things that could have been going through her head. And although my birth mother probably knew she would never be able to raise me herself or really know me for that matter, she gave me the greatest gift I could ever ask for- to be alive. She then decided to leave me at a Catholic orphanage. Back in 1986, it was dangerous to be in an orphanage in El Salvador. Many children were never adopted and those children that were didn't always make it to their adopted families. It is a sad and scary history, and if you want I can send you some links more about it, but believe me, I feel very lucky to have made it out.
During that same time, a newlywed couple in Philadelphia couldn’t have children of their own but wanted a family. They adopted a baby girl (my fellow arrow!) from Costa Rica the year before in 1985 and wanted to adopt a son to be a brother to her. However, I wasn’t the first baby boy the adoption agency suggested they bring home. There was an African-American baby boy in Texas who the adoption agency found before me and suggested they adopt him as their son. Remember, it was 1986, and people weren’t as understanding of differences as they are today. We are still working through these issues.
Long story short, prejudice in what was to become my extended family is the only reason why I am here now. My father’s parents kept my own parents from adopting that boy from Texas simply because of the color of his skin- because he was black. I was never told this until I was sixteen when I was away at boarding school but believe me, I felt that prejudice from that extended family my whole childhood.
I still think about that boy from Texas, the presence of prejudice in my own family, my adoption, the timing, the color of his skin, the color of my own… everything. I can’t believe the chances of it all. It truly boggles my mind. But when it comes down to it, even though I experienced the ugliness of judgment and exclusion in my own family, something I never wish on any person or child, when I look back on all those tough experiences I realize they planted a seed deep within my thinking that slowly began to grow: the belief that everyone and every life is valuable. How could that not be true? Why else would a stranger adopt and love a baby they never met? Why else would a mother, who knew they wouldn’t be able to raise their own child, still give him or her an opportunity to have a healthy and meaningful life? And why else do we all have moments in our lives where we go out of our way to help complete strangers knowing we may never see them again?
Why am I sharing this all with you? Because I've spent my life studying leadership and how people influence one another, both formally and informally, and what I’ve come to understand is that each of our own stories, the good, the bad and the ugly of it, gives all of us our own unique purpose. If you’ve read this far, you know what I’m talking about. That's why I created BGood Worldwide. That’s why I love the work of mentoring and empowering future leaders, especially those from underserved communities. And that’s why I know one day will we will live in an innovative and peaceful world. Because collectively, that’s our purpose.
BGood Worldwide is more than just developing leadership skills. It’s more than just getting involved in local and global service. And it’s more than just traveling with a group of your peers on a mission abroad. It’s about transforming yourself. It’s about finding the courage and support to master your talents and bring them to life. It’s about becoming a leader that will positively impact your community and your world, in your own unique way. The real question is; what are the chances that put you in your current circumstances and what are you going to do about it? What is your purpose? It's a big question, I know. But believe me, it's worth discovering.
I look forward to meeting you, hearing your story, and supporting your growth as a local and global leader. And remember, always b yourself.
With all my heart,
Benjamin C. Goodstein