by Jill Meyers
When I first contacted the Dreams Soar organization back in March, I asked Lyndse Costabile, the Chair of their Board of Directors, if they needed help connecting to Women in Aviation International (WAI) chapters around the globe, to inquire about collaborating on planning the Outreach events. I really expected to just send a few emails and make a few calls to contacts I had from being a WAI Chapter President since 2012. Little did I know that this would turn into me supporting Dreams Soar 24/7 on a volunteer basis, quitting my job in the process to support Shaesta Waiz and the organization full time. I thought I’d write a bit about what it’s like giving every ounce of yourself to something you are passionate about, even when you are not getting paid.
As the person handling Shaesta’s outreach events and logistics, it requires me to be available all day and all night to support needs in almost every time zone around the world. In the early months, I needed to be up in the morning to support Shaesta while she was in Canada and then in Europe. At the same time, I was on conference calls with our planning teams in places like Dubai, Singapore and New Caledonia, which often had me on calls very late at night. And then my phone would ring at 2:00 or 3:00 am, when folks overseas forgot to pull up a time zone chart to see what time it was here in California! And once they called, I really couldn’t be rude and say “I’ll call you back when I’m awake”, because by then, their business day is over and they are asleep! So I’d crawl into bed around 4:00 am, until around 5:00 am, when Lyndse and the Dream Soar folks on the East coast would get up and start texting me. I was never one to keep my mobile phone on my nightstand, as I always figured “no call in the middle of the night can be that important”. But as soon as Shaesta departed on May 13th, my watch with the Indiglo night light went into the drawer, and my iPhone took its place, with the ringer and text volumes turned up loud.
An interesting phenomenon started to happen in June after Shaesta crossed the Atlantic Ocean and arrive in Europe. It was as if my body clock knew it had to align with hers. One of the Board members said to me one day, “You pretty much have to be up when Shaesta’s up, right? No matter where she is?” and I replied “Yes!". I started naturally waking up when she did without setting my alarm or I would set my alarm for the time I knew Shaesta would be heading to the airport in Athens or Bahrain and wake up right before it went off. But here’s the surprise: I have been getting very little sleep since May, often in 2-4 hour bursts, yet I have a lot of energy and am not really that tired, and I don’t mind sharing the fact that I am in my mid-50s, so it’s not like I’m “twentysomething” and used to lack of sleep.
People often tell me that they are amazed and impressed and even astonished by the fact that I left a high-paying job to do this full time for the duration of Shaesta’s global flight. From the day I started supporting Dreams Soar full time to the day that Shaesta will land in Daytona Beach, I will have been doing this for six months. Yes, it’s been challenging to give up a paycheck as I am not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but I respond to people by saying that this is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and that I am having the time of my life!
Supporting Shaesta and this team and seeing the looks on the faces of the young people that Shaesta has inspired fills my heart with love and hope for the future. Knowing that I am part of this team that is helping underprivileged kids understand that they can let their dreams soar is an incredible feeling and you just can’t put a price tag on that.