January 2, 2012
To Whom It May Concern:
This October, I had the wonderful opportunity of having Jim Tuman speak at my school, Northern Highlands Regional High School. It is a day everyone who attended will never forget.
I first met Jim Tuman at the 2010 New Jersey Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Conference as a sophomore. I had never heard someone speak so candidly and so well. I was greatly impressed that Mr. Tuman's capacity to tell every personal story to a large group of strangers and then engaged them in participating throughout his speech until they were no longer strangers. It was evident to me that he thinks quickly on his feet, knows how to pull a group of people together, and has a huge heart. By the time he had finished his speech, I knew I wanted to share this experience with others at my school.
Later that summer when I heard that it was a possibility he could come speak at my high school, I was thrilled and did everything in my power to make it happen. I didn't want it to be just an assembly. I wanted to take the energy and inspiration I knew Mr. Tumman would create and use it to initiate something. And so, with Mr. Tumman in mind, I created the leadership initiative, an outlet for student leaders can come together to create positive change in our local community, through leadership and volunteerism.
The first outreach of the leadership initiative was the October assembly, the primary focus of which was Mr. Tuman. He addressed 128 student leaders and impacted us greatly. Mr. Timmins spoke of our ability to change lives but also said we shouldn't wait to do so, since life has no guarantees. He had us ask ourselves, "what have I done today to help someone else?" And think about how simple things add up. He told us that to become better leaders, we need to first become better friends. I turned in my seat to see my classmates crying together, nodding their heads.
After Mr. Tuman finished speaking, students flooded the stage to hug him and one another. The support and thanks I received just for organizing the event has been overwhelming and wonderful. I have never in my life had students ranging from newspaper editors to fall play leads to varsity football captains tell me genuinely I have changed their lives. The truth though: Jim changed their lives. I just feel blessed to have been part of it.
Jim Tuman was the perfect beginning to this initiative. He got students attention and he affected him deeply. He invigorated us all to act, to become better leaders and better volunteers. One student told me that the work she does for the leadership initiative is now a small favor after hearing Jim Tuman speak.
I count myself lucky to have her Jim Tuman present. I also count myself lucky to have become his friend. He regularly calls to see how the leadership initiative is doing and what we have accomplished as of late. Once Jim Tuman is in your life, he's really in it. I have never met a more kindhearted, carrying, in support of individual. When he speaks, he means all he says, which makes his speech is all the more compelling.
I am confident that, given the chance, Mr. Tuman would also deeply affect your community. I hope you consider hosting him as a speaker.
Emily Masters, Founder
The Leadership Initiative
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