“one year ago I walked in to the doors of TWO RIVERS WILD LIFE PARK. as some one with a dream. and that dream was to help out the critters at the park by becoming a Volunteer. see I love animals so I thought that would be a great place for me and I was right on so may levels. I learned so much and done so much. and made so many friends. I have some NEWS that I’d like to share with every one that’s been following my story. As of July 1 I’m no longer going to be a volunteer at two rivers . . . . I GOT MY FIRST SUMMER JOB AT THE PLACE I LOVE MOST. July 1 I’m going to be the newest STAFF MEMBER OF TWO RIVERS WILD LIFE PARK!!!..i’d like to thank my mom and dad and Johnny Huntington for making this happen!” ~ Matthew Hilliard, May 19, 2015
Pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?
By the time July 1st rolls around Matt will have just about, if not over, 1400 hours under his belt volunteering. It’s the next 320 hours that will be making him gleam. Typing that seemed funny. A mere 320 hours compared to 1400. There are just over 4 groups of 320 hours in the 1400 that he’s completed in almost 14 months. Averaging 100 hours/month plus school, plus his involvement in the fire department. Seriously, that makes me shake my head. A lot of hours for someone to dedicate.
Now he will be able to say that his first job, his first real, paying job is where he said it would be. It will be exactly where he wanted it to be since he was a little boy. I think that’s quite an accomplishment in itself. Actually getting hired at the place where you hoped and dreamed to work many, many years before. Imagine that.
Can you or I say that? Some can, but I suspect it’s not the majority. The only other person that I can remember actually doing what she said she was going to do with her life from the age of 5 is my sister. She was going to be a nurse and she never swayed from that for one minute. And one helluva nurse she is.
As nursing was and is a passion for her, wildlife has always been a passion for Matthew. Maybe they are 2 people who truly followed through with their dreams regardless of the hurdles. I couldn’t imagine going through the years of university and training and long hours and horrible shifts and awful circumstances that my sister encountered over the years. But she wouldn’t trade it for anything. She continues to better herself, she’s constantly reevaluating her goals and making sure that she remains on top of her game. She loves her career and anyone who knows her or has been in her care will attest to that. Her’s isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. A calling that she followed from the young age of 5 years old.
It’s not a whole lot different for Matthew. He’s not years into his career yet like his aunt is but the enthusiasm and determination that I saw in her all those years ago is being mirrored by him now. She proudly displayed her candy-stripper’s uniform as she volunteered at our local hospital many years ago as eagerly as Matt wears his Two Rivers Volunteer shirt and hat today. As humbly and professionally as she carried herself through the hospital corridors he now walks the grounds and trails of the park. The similarities between the two are quite amazing as I sit here and think about it.
And perhaps this is all what makes it so easy for Mike and I to do whatever it is we can for Matthew to help his dreams become reality. Mom and Dad certainly went above and beyond for both Allana and I but with her going away to university and needing to fulfill her dreams hours away from home it was a little (ok, a lot) more challenging for them with her than it was with me. I stayed home to go to university and let’s face it; the costs associated with my degree and her degree where at opposite ends of the spectrum. While we both did our part contributing to our education by getting the necessary financial assistance that we could it also required the less-than-glamorous summer jobs of doing whatever we (or Dad) had to do to make it all happen.
I watched as my parents did without and scrimped and saved to give each of us what we needed because they saw the desire, especially in my sister, for her to “be” something. And not just ‘something’. A nurse.
She wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. She learned how to help people through birth, death, illness and recovery. Life.
Matthew’s passion isn’t that far off track from my sister’s. He has witnessed birth, death, illness and recovery, as well. With animals. In less than ideal conditions. He’s learning his craft through hand’s-on experiences. While he may not go to university or become a veterinarian he is certainly following in her footsteps.
The similarities can even go as step further as they both share another life-long dream turned reality in that they are both volunteer firefighters. My sister celebrated her 5th birthday with a firefighting themed birthday party and as soon as age permitted, she was accepted as a member of the fire department that saw many family members before and after her commit their time to.
This certainly isn’t the angle I expected this entry to take but the more I wrote and the more I thought of the parallels the more blown away I became. Why didn’t I put all this together before? It’s really freaking me out as I sit here.
I’ve watched my sister embrace her dreams, get a position in her field and work her way up. Even though it’s been and taken her years, it seems like it was just yesterday that it all started for her. All I can hope for Matthew is that his first summer job is the beginning of as many years of enjoyment in a position that he loves as much.
I’ll keep you posted.
Until next time…