Outside my office, in space generously donated to us by the Westbrook Public Library, is a conference table. On a recent Friday morning, I was sitting in my office. A tutor and her student were in session at the conference table. Their hushed conversation was frequently punctuated by laughter. Their laughter could have been mistaken for idle levity. But it was not.

What I heard in their laughter was clearly discernible joy. It was the joy of learning. It was the joy of sharing language, sharing camaraderie and friendship, sharing mutual respect and admiration for gifts given and received with grateful reciprocity.

At that moment, my heart was as full as my senses — my eyes and my ears — in the realization that I was privileged to witness that sharing. And it was full of pride and humility as I thought of these words from Woodrow Wilson:

I feel the responsibility of the occasion. Responsibility is proportionate to opportunity.

I believe all of us at LVVS feel the responsibility of this occasion. In choosing to serve LVVS, we choose to serve the needs of others. We take responsibility for their well being. We take responsibility for helping to improve their lives. We take responsibility for helping to improve our community. We take responsibility for improving ourselves as human beings. And we take responsibility for fulfilling our duty to each other. That responsibility, too, is a privilege.

Along with our responsibility and our privilege comes myriad blessings. We’re blessed to work with amazing students who remind us every day that the American Dream — the opportunity to create a better life and to pursue one’s happiness — is alive and well. We’re blessed to serve a cause that does immediately recognizable good. We’re blessed to share the power of language with people who need it, use it, and appreciate it. Most important, we’re blessed by the opportunity to do what every person longs to do more than anything else — to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve, in the community we share, and in the world we’ll leave behind.

LVVS is the work of our hearts and a labor of love. It’s a privilege and an honor to see and hear proof of that right outside my door.