How 5 Day Programs for those with Special Needs Made Me Cry Tears of Joy
By Jim Gaven
Armed with the goal of helping others, Jim Gaven’s mission is to use the power of music to make you think of a good time in your life, make you feel good about yourself, and most of all, put a smile on your face. Quoted as saying, ‘I want to inspire you to do great things as I have been inspired. The fact that you can create something out of nothing and have it last forever is amazing to me.’ This is a true testament to the everlasting impact we can all have on each other, and Jim hopes to bring that kind of attitude to the forefront through his musical endeavors.
Have you ever cried tears of joy because you were filled with such gratitude? I have on many occasions, but one sticks out to me like no other…
It was the Friday before Easter 2018, and I was saying my goodbyes around the office. As bittersweet an exercise this was, I was ready to move on with the next chapter in my life. Moving my way from cubicle to cubicle wishing people well and sharing my personal contact information seemed like the right thing to do, however mechanical it might have been. After working my way around the entire first floor, I arrived back at my desk.
Working at a non-profit organization helping those with developmental/intellectual disabilities, AKA special needs, changed my life. Instead of just going through the motions every day, I started living every day to the fullest and sharing my gifts of time and energy to improve their quality of life. It wasn’t about me anymore. It was about serving someone else not expecting anything in return. It filled me with joy. It gave me a sense of purpose and meaning. It taught me about compassion, empathy, understanding, and patience. In short, it increased my emotional awareness and intelligence ten-fold. In many ways, this work helped me become not only a better version of myself, but the best version. For that, I owe a debt of gratitude to these amazing individuals for showing me the way.
What happened right before I was about to leave for the last time out of that front door caught me totally off-guard, gave me the goosebumps, and made me cry tears of joy. It was a simple gesture, but one that I know took much time, energy, and coordination to make happen. And, if there’s anything I’ve learned in life, it’s that simple things go a long way. A clear box on a small raised platform was sitting next to my office computer. I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but then quickly realized it was a collection of ‘Thank You’s’ and ‘Well Wishes’ from many of the individuals I served and supported at the 5 Day Program’s I regularly visited across the state of NJ for the past 4 years. These programs were at least 45 minutes away from each other, so in order to collect handwritten notes, signatures, and small pictures meant that this had to have been put into place months ago! I couldn’t believe it. The amount of thought put into this keepsake meant so much to me. It was better than any raise, bonus, or praise from management. It was from the heart. It was meaningful. I took some time to read through the top few, and then headed through the doors for the last time. When I got home, I read through the rest of them, and each one filled my heart with gratitude, love, peace, and joy. All I ever tried to do was positively impact their lives and teach them about music, how to play instruments, how to sing, and, more often than not, talk about life and what matters to them. I showed up. I was really present. I cared. And, I still do!
It’s so simple, but this is all we really have to do with one another to create long-lasting meaningful relationships in life. Just show up. Put the phone down and be fully present. Ask a question and really care about the answer. Give a hug when someone is having a bad day. Celebrate all the good things when they come along.
As much as I tried to teach them and be there for them, they matched and surpassed that for me. You never know who’s watching or the kind of impact you have on those around you. No good deed goes unnoticed, no matter how simple or extravagant it may be.
In honor of how much these individuals mean to me, I published a picture book and wrote a song, both named, ‘Just Like You and Me’. If you feel inspired to do so, please feel free to head to: https://jimgaven.bandcamp.com/track/just-like-you-and-me for the song and https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/jim-gaven/just-like-you-and-me/paperback/product-1km2kwm5.html?page=1&pageSize=4 for the book.
Links and Other Information:
To contact Jim, you can do so by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Jim and Key of Awesome Music, the business he founded, owns, and operates, head to: www.keyofawesomemusic.com.
To follow and share his social media pages:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/keyofawesomemusic (Free daily Facebook Live programs geared towards and children and those with developmental disabilities)
For more children’s books about alliterations as well as self-help/motivational books, head to: www.lulu.com/spotlight/jimgaven
To hear more original music of his, you can do so by going to:
Bandcamp (entire catalog): www.jimgaven.bandcamp.com
To sign-up for the monthly newsletter, you can do so by going here: