The two letters lay open on the desk in front of her. Two offers. No clear answers.
She was sitting at their small table; her eyes kept flitting back and forth between the pieces of paper while her hands absently tore the flap of one of the envelopes into pieces.
The first offer was a job in Tennessee: good money, good position, good room for advancement. The other was for a small company, newly started just down the street from her apartment complex. It might not even survive the year, so the pay would be minimal, the future prospects possibly non-existent.
She’d spent almost a year pursuing the Tennessee job. She was ready for the move. She liked the idea of having more than enough money for once. She scanned the small apartment she had shared with her best friend for her last two years of school. Both business majors, they were typical college students: dirt poor. The furniture was old, borrowed, broken down. But since she had planned to move back to Tennessee as soon as she graduated, the apartment had remained sparse.
She picked up the Tennessee letter again. She would live about 35 minutes from the small town where her parents still lived. She still had lots of friends in the area, and her roommate had also been offered a job at the same company. It seemed so perfect: the two women would continue living together and work in the same company only a few minutes from her home.
So why couldn’t she just take the job?
She picked up the second paper. The company, Helping Hands, was a nonprofit organization where she had volunteered for the last few months. The arrangement had been mutually beneficial. They had needed help; she had needed a company to study for a project in her NonProfit Business class.
Helping Hands had been founded in the neighborhood known as East Campus. Many students found cheap housing there, and the area was known for its lack of resources. Most of its residents were on welfare, and many of them still barely got by. So Helping Hands had come in to assist the neighbors in getting what they needed: federal aid, medical help, job training, whatever it could do.
She had passed it on her way home every day for a week before she went inside. There were two women sitting inside, struggling with a computer. The desks and files were a mess. Before the end of the afternoon, she had signed on as a volunteer, assisting them with the organization and set-up so that they could handle the needs of those who stopped in.
That had been months ago. She had kept volunteering long after the class project had been returned (she’d earned an A on it). There was something about the place that she really enjoyed. She felt…useful there.
Then last week, Margo, her boss, called her into her office and told her that they wanted to hire her full time. She’d been a great asset to them, the business was doing well so far, and they would be interested in interviewing her if she was interested in staying. Without thinking, she had agreed to the interview, which had taken place last Thursday.
Now it was Tuesday, and she had two job offers and no clear idea which one she should take. The job in Tennessee was perfect, offering a promising future; she knew it, and everyone else seemed to be certain of that fact, too. Her family and her roommate hadn’t even acknowledged the nonprofit job as a real possibility.
But for some reason, she was drawn to that little storefront down the street in a different way. She had watched people walk in, uncertain and without answers, and walk back out with hope. She had come to know the ladies who worked there: their hearts and their longing to make a difference, even if it was only in a little run-down neighborhood.
She felt important when she was working there. She didn’t feel like a robot in a cubicle, processing numbers and making charts. She looked people in the eye, shook their hands, and saw real change. It felt good, like she really fit there.
Suddenly, she knew what she wanted. She picked up both letters and read them each again, one last time. Then she reached for the phone. She dialed the number for Helping Hands.
“Hi, Margo! It’s me. I’m going to take your job.”
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