In the fourth grade, I changed schools in the middle of the spring semester. Neither the new teacher nor the students welcomed me with open arms. I felt like an outsider and changed from someone who loved school to someone who didn’t. The result was that my grades plummeted. It was a relief when the semester came to a close.
All summer long I dreaded going back to school. When the first day of class arrived that fall, I was a very timid ten year old opening the classroom door and looking around at a room full of strangers.
Then a miracle happened.
A little girl smiled and waved and said, “Sit next to me.” Her one gesture of welcome turned everything around for me. School was okay after all.
Today, that little girl is the owner of a famous boutique in Beverly Hills. Famous, because it was the one where Julia Roberts was snubbed in the movie Pretty Woman. (But remember, that was just a movie.) The owner, who treated me like gold, is Linda Kosser Afcharieh, and her boutique is Boulmiche.
I haven’t seen her in decades but I still remember her warm welcome. If you are involved in nonprofit leadership, you can learn a lot from this owner of a boutique in Beverly Hills. In the movie, she snubbed Julia Roberts. In real life, she made me feel like a pretty woman.
By Shar McBee, author of “To Lead is to Serve”
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