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SHARE Yourself Article by: Mac Anderson

ONE OF MY FAVORITE HABITS in life is waking up early on Sunday morning, getting the Sunday paper, making a hot cup of coffee, and kicking back to read about what’s going on in the world. It’s my quiet time … my time alone to reflect and relax.

One Sunday morning about halfway through my little ritual, I spotted a headline that read “Graduating Student Credits His ‘Angel’ ” … and I began to read.

A young man who was graduating from college told the story about how Oral Lee Brown was his “Real-Life Angel.” In 1987, Brown, a real estate agent in Northern California, saw a young girl in her neighborhood begging for money.

When she went to the school the girl had claimed to attend, Brown couldn’t find her, but that day she made a decision that would change the lives of many other children forever. She adopted an entire first-grade class in one of Oakland’s lowest-performing schools, and she pledged that she personally would pay for anyone who wanted to attend college.

This would be a great story even if Oral Lee Brown were independently wealthy; however, it is a much greater story considering she was a former cotton picker from Mississippi, making $45,000 a year and raising two children of her own.

Brown lived up to her pledge. Since 1987, she’s personally saved $10,000 a year while raising donations for her “adopted first-grade kids.” And because of her tremendous act of unselfish love, children who could have been “swallowed by the streets” are now graduating from college to pursue their dreams.

We all seek our purpose in life. Most of us wonder how we can make a positive difference during our brief time on this earth. But asking and doing are different things.

It’s hard to imagine that Oral Lee Brown wouldn’t have a wonderful positive attitude, because she has thought less about herself and more about others. This, in my opinion, is a “little secret” that many people never quite understand about life.


Learn more about Mac Anderson, founder of Successories and author of the Simple Truths book series.

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"First say to yourself what you would be: and then do what you have to do."

- Epictitus

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