Booker T. Washington is credited with the quote, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
Washington (1856-1915) was born into slavery and rose to become a leading African American intellectual of the 19th century, founding Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in 1881 and the National Negro Business League two decades later.
One local man is practicing what Washington preached and believes now, more than ever, people need lifting.
If you’ve traveled along Pa. Route 89 between Titusville and Spartansburg you may have seen his attempt to lift you up. It comes in the form of a two-sided, 4-foot-by-8-foot sign in his yard.
The message on the sign changes every weekend. The sign has been inspiring passersby for nearly two years. The sign-maker / people-lifter — Dean Maynard.
So what kind of messages does Maynard look for?
“I post short inspirational and personal / professional growth quotes from things I have taken note of in the past or have recently read or come across in my profession,” Maynard said.
Some examples of what motorists or pedestrians might see as they make their way to work, school or any destination: “Just be yourself.” “Actions speak louder than words.” “Trust the process.” “Slow and steady wins the race.” “Run right at whatever scares you.” “Keep your focus.” “Never give up, never surrender.” “Be mysterious, like the choice is yours.” “Let your light shine.” “Go ahead, hit the pause button.”
Maynard doesn’t just pick quotes from a basket. There’s a reason to his rhyme.
“When I see, hear or read a helpful quote, whether it be in print, in a song or part of lecture or training I am involved in, I write it down,” he said. “I keep a running list of potential postings on a white board in my barn. I carefully select them from the list. I try to make each quote send the right message to the right audience at the right time.”
So, why does a busy guy take time to arrange letters on a sign in hopes of lifting others?
“I am a lifelong learner and have always felt motivated and driven by supportive words and quotes that I have run across in my studies,” he said. “There is always a quote on my fridge and on my dresser to help me cope and keep me going.”
“I am an avid reader, writer and my profession keeps me well informed and aware of what kind of quotes are out there to help people grow personally and professionally,” he said. When he isn’t creating inspirational messages on the weekend, Maynard spends his weekdays as executive director of the Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit in Edinboro.
When you talk about quotes, you should keep in mind, “timing is everything.”
“Our society is too stressed and overwhelmed by technology, schedule obligations and drama. In my work, I read about the challenges of learning, parenting, growing professionally and struggling personally, and use these challenges to look for supportive statements to help people that might be looking for some encouragement,” he said.
“I believe that we need to build people up in today’s society more than ever,” he said. “Everyone is struggling and faced with situations that there are no easy fixes for and remember — actions speak louder than words.”
In two years time, Maynard has seen signs of appreciation for his efforts.
“I have had a handful of people stop and thank me for taking the time to post these messages,” he said “One guy even stopped and told me in detail how one posting helped him in a recent financial situation.”