Undercover Awesome

That was the term used to describe Commissioner Scott Semple of the Connecticut Department of Corrections as he was introduced to a gathering at the Vera Institute of Justice.

In discussing his work to create a healthier and more humane corrections system, Mr. Semple lamented that people who work in corrections seldom get to see the success of their work.

After all, success is when someone doesn’t come back to prison — and goes on to live a happy life as a productive member of the community.

In reflecting on this, it seems like this is often the case for many of us. Our true success in helping others mostly remains invisible or “undercover.”

In Semple’s case, he is showing the long term wins to his colleagues by sharing stories of how former inmates were now leading successful lives; and also by demonstrating how daily encounters between those working in and living in prison can have significant impact down the road.

He cited both examples from a Vera-sponsored trip to prisons in Germany (see the remarkable 60 Minutes story here) and one closer to home in Ohio, where a prison is planning a unique event for fathers in prison: a Daddy-Daughter Dance. (Here are some touching photos from a dance held in a Florida detention center.)

It’s hard to quantify the difference a single dance will make in that family’s life or, for that matter, any single act of kindness. But intuitively, they feel right and impactful.

Whether you’re a teacher, mentor, supervisor, neighbor, nurse or anyone who has done something in service to others — your impact on another’s life may never come full circle. That doesn’t make you a failure. It just makes you undercover awesome.

Send a note today to someone who was undercover awesome for you…or, if you can’t find that person, go a little undercover for someone else today.

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