Being the Change
We have all heard it said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world," but rarely is the change evident in everyday life. As I spoke with Genia Edelman, it was immediately clear that this was a woman who is changing the world.
For years, Genia was an Executive Wonderwoman in the Sales and Marketing Department at the Discovery Channel, a job she got after sitting next to the President of the Discovery Channel on an airplane. "Life is about being at the right place at the right time, but it's also about doing the right things to get there." From Discovery, she transitioned to the Gospel Network, and finally escaped the pressures of Corporate America in January of this year by taking a job in Hilton Head with a channel that fueled her passion for ministry-the Africa Channel. "Our goal is to bridge the gap between the U.S. and Africa by creating a think tank here to build a stronger community in Africa." Her actions speak for themselves, as Genia has just returned from her first trip to Swaziland, Africa, (and her first mission trip ever), which she took by herself with only three weeks' notice.
Not only is Genia making her mark overseas, but all over the Lowcountry, as well. In the last three months, she has gotten married, moved to a larger house, and she and her husband have opened Smoothie Land on the south end of Hilton Head Island. "People talk about up-sizing and down-sizing, but to me, it's all about right-sizing. What am I doing with the things I am investing my time and money into? We are moving into a bigger house, but with the extra space, we are able to provide housing to some of our family members who need a place to live. We also have a different approach to owning a business. Many people think it is all about making customers happy, but we think that if the employees are happy, then the customers will notice a difference and want to come back. The first question on our job application says, 'if money didn't matter, what would you do?'" What would you do?
One major thing that Genia has done is helped to develop a growing sports ministry program in the Lowcountry for middle and high school age kids. As a collegiate volleyball player and a lifelong athlete, she understands the benefits of athletics, especially in young adults. She was fundamental in the creation of the Hilton Head Island Volleyball Club, also known as the Blacktips, and assistant coaches at Hilton Head Christian Academy. Her philosophy is not based on winning, but on developing athletes and providing them with positive role models and outlets to grow and learn. "I don't focus on winning; winning is the side effect of hard work. We had 13 teams this year-I didn't cut a single player. There are so many elite athletes in this area, and I couldn't believe there was hardly an organization to help them develop their skills. There is an unbelievable amount of at-risk kids here, and they are kids that both have money, and don't. These kids are my kids. I protect them the same as I do my own kids, I talk to them the same, I don't judge them; they make mistakes like everyone else, and all I can do is offer them unconditional love and guidance. I don't ever want to be the reason that someone never plays a sport again."
Genia is changing the world one spur-of-the-moment decision at a time, one athlete at a time, one employee at a time, and one open-mind at a time. Her commitment to change is evident in her openness to go where she's needed and promote what she believes in, despite what others may agree or disagree with. "It's all about building the right team with a passion to serve. I want to find people who are smarter than me, and train them to take my job. Women don't always think that way, but we need to learn to be less competitive with each other, and more like a family. Sometimes people look at me like I have three heads, but I don't care. It's all about being the change. You miss every shot you don't take."
The Hilton Head Volleyball Club ?is a non-profit organization that runs ?on the faithful commitment of volunteers and generous donations of the ?local community.
If you are interested in donating to ?the organization please mail checks to: ?Hilton Head Volleyball Club?P.O. Box 6492?Hilton Head Island, SC 29938
Check it out: ?Watch the Blacktips adult volleyball tournament Labor Day weekend on the courts at Coligny Beach on Hilton Head Island.