I Want to Start a Movement: Lights On, Lights Everywhere

Everyone in the US has heard some stories about Benjamin Franklin. Some of them are true, and some of them are false. This story will be about a false narrative: the origin of streetlights.

For years, many people associate the invention of streetlights with Ben Franklin, but that’s not true. In 1757, Benjamin Franklin introduced a bill to pave the streets of Philadelphia. He left town for work elsewhere and was absent when the bill passed. Another citizen, John Clifton, thought lighting up the outside would be a good idea, but he did not introduce a bill, but he was the first person to hang a light outside his home. That light attracted the attention of others, who then also hung lights and thus started a movement. Franklin came along later and improved the design of the light fixture, which was needed because lights at that time held real fire and needed proper venting.

Why am I telling you this? Because John Clifton was a role model. He was not an elected official; he was not the sort of person who petitioned to create change, yet he still had an impact. He made history by simply being a role model and taking a chance to show someone another way. He introduced an idea and put what mattered to him into practice in his own life.

Everyone can be a role model of goodness; others who see your good work will notice, leading to better results. When someone does good, another will see a way to build on it. Maybe they will find a way to make it easier or better in some way, but building on goodness is what we are called to do.

If you look at Franklin’s life, he told people he did not deserve the credit for hanging out that first light. He gave that credit to Clifton, who I am pretty sure didn’t care to have any credit.

We all must be like Clifton and serve as role models, shining a light. We may also be called to be like Franklin by building on ideas that those role models have introduced.

At KenCrest, consider this story of Norma Mendoza, the Family Service Worker at the Northeast and Adams Center. Norma is one of the first Representatives to speak up in meetings with innovative ideas and creative solutions for the group. However, she does much work behind the scenes that isn’t always mentioned. Norma has taken the time to translate many (if not all) parent registrations into Spanish. This is imperative with their daily work supporting many of our Latino/a families throughout all seven centers. Families have the understanding right at their fingertips and do not need translation or clarity unless requested. She also formatted and updated all the forms to the new KenCrest Logos and headers.

Norma excels at connecting KenCrest with the Community each Center serves. She is out at grocery stores, setting up tables, and hosting events at her schools. If she could, she would be out on Adams Avenue spinning an Enrolling Now billboard to attract families driving by.

The past couple of years, through the Pandemic, has been challenging, and some of us have depleted our energy, which is in the process of being “recharged.” Norma seems to keep a strong stride in her passion for recruiting, enrolling, and connecting with families daily. Her energy and drive are commendable.

There are many “Cliftons” throughout KenCrest’s department or programs, let’s make sure we celebrate them, and shout out their achievements. Remember there’s always an opportunity to submit a gratitude for them as well!