With a little investment of time by community elders, helping youth realize their potential, the road connecting a youth’s passion and purpose doesn’t have to lead too far from home.
“One of the things in life that I was able to learn at an early age is that everyone has a purpose,” said Timothy Lampkin, 29, of Clarksdale, Miss. “I think that’s something that my mentor kind of embedded in me.”
After earning a degree in business administration, Lampkin climbed the corporate ladder and landed in a management role in a retail store in Mobile, Ala., 325 miles from home. Working more than 60 hours per week, he earned “a good living” pursuing what he perceived at the time to be the American dream. By many people’s standards, he was a success. But the city of nearly 200,000 that offered nearly every other amenity could not provide the one thing: familiarity.
“It was important for me to give back to the place that helped shape my perspective about life,” Lampkin said, adding that the residents of a community are its biggest asset. “The negative statistics are often highlighted, and the positive stories or solutions are never
mentioned. … I wanted to be a part of the change and rewrite the narrative for the Mississippi Delta.”
Encouraged by family, friends and the mentor from his youth, he moved back to his hometown of 17,000 at 25, unsure that he would find professional fulfillment in the only place that could provide personal satisfaction.
“They said, ‘You should come back. There’s a lot of work for you to do here,’” he recalled. “‘Just dig in, get in the trenches and find what you’re passionate about.’”
He began working in community development, and since has created his own business, providing grant-writing and other consulting services to small businesses and nonprofits. In the process, Lampkin said he has found the secret to life: connecting one’s passion and purpose.
“Everyone has a particular skill, a particular talent, a particular vision, and when you match that purpose with what you’re passionate about, there’s just automatically this affinity around those two places,” he said. “I never really pictured myself coming back and being instrumental in transforming the Delta, but when I look back on the last 10 to 15 years of my life, this is what I was preparing for all along.”
Today, he counts Clarksdale among his own biggest assets.
“It is truly a blessing to wake up every day with the desire to inspire, innovate or create something to enhance the place I call home,” he
Writer’s note: I met Tim Lampkin at the National Rural Assembly in Washington, D.C., in September. He was among a panel of young leaders who shared the reason they moved back to their home communities. His story of connecting passion and purpose to the benefit of a rural community is universally inspirational, so I asked if I could share it with Dakotafire readers.