My friend, Barry, has a very interesting business, and it strikes me that his model is a really good metaphor for how we might view the orphans of our world. I’m going to tell you about that, but first let me give you some background on his business.
Barry buys and sells steel. As you may know, steel usually comes in thin sheets – 48 or maybe 60 inches wide – and often over 100 feet long. The long sheets are then coiled and sold to manufacturers as “cold rolls.” With standard cuts, there is often significant waste. If, for example, a 48” wide roll was purchased, but the manufacturer only needs a 44” wide section to make their product, the last 4” is traditionally viewed as scrap and sold for pennies on the dollar. Barry, however, doesn’t see scrap but rather opportunity. He purchases the leftover steel for a few cents above the scrap price. He then finds a company that uses smaller pieces of steel (for example, a curtain rod manufacturer). He uncoils the steel, cuts it to the appropriate size, polishes it, then turns a very nice profit on the sale.
Interestingly enough, Barry’s perspective doesn’t stop with steel. Only a few days ago, he said to me, “I want my life to be about redeeming. I’m always looking to hire that guy the world may have cast off, but inside him is potential waiting to be redeemed. When you take what’s destined for scrap and shape something useful out of it, then you’ve really done something.”
His model works – both with business and with people – because where others see scrap, he sees potential. Perhaps orphans are the scrap metal of our world, destined to be discarded. But in each child lies the potential of something new, of something beautiful. Our task is to see not the discard, but the promise in every child.
Perhaps our staff member, Dayane, says it best in the signature line of her emails: “Because every child is a story yet to be told.”
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