Look for the Small Miracles

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

A good friend recently explained to me his observations about life.  He stated that we look for big miracles, but they don’t really happen.  You do hear of amazing experiences, like a person who survives a devastating car crash without a scratch.  But, most good things that happen to people are small and really only mean something to those involved.  No one else cares.  The problem is that we often are too busy to notice these experiences.  People often miss out on the goodness of life because they fail to see these small miracles that happen around them all the time.  We just don’t think to look for them.

Four years ago today, a small miracle happened in my life.  On April 1, 2008, City Manager Pete Auger promoted me from City Planner to Director of Community Development.  It was an exciting thing because I was given the privilege to continue to grow in my profession at the City of Auburn Hills.  I started here in 1999 and my career was at a crossroads.  Pete was new to the City and did not know me very well, but gave me a shot at the job.  He took a flyer on me.  I am very grateful to him for the opportunity to serve the community.

At the time of my promotion, I went to visit my Dad in the hospital.  He was struggling with complications from diabetes, but was in great spirits.  When I walked into his room, he introduced me to the nurses and his doctor saying “This is my son. He is ‘The’ Director of Community Development for the City of Auburn Hills.  You know that Chrysler and the Detroit Pistons are in Auburn Hills.  He is a very important person there.”  I don’t think I ever saw him smile so much.  He was more excited about my promotion than me.

Dad and myself at graduation from Michigan State University (1994)

The nurses and his doctor stopped what they were doing and shook my hand, but you could tell that they could care less.  You can’t blame them; they deal with so many people during the course of a day.  But, this small thing meant so much to my Dad.

I am sure he realized at the time that he was dying.  My Mom had passed away when I was in college.  I am the youngest of three brothers, so I was his baby.  He knew that all the sacrifices he and my Mom had made were worth it; that his youngest boy was going to be OK.  Sadly for our family, he passed away a short time later.

I look back at the time and find myself very thankful for the fact that I could be a blessing to him.  Honoring the legacy of my Mom and Dad is something that pushes me to perform at a high level for the City of Auburn Hills.   My parents were Detroit Public School Teachers and their example shaped my decision at a young age to become a public servant.

So, I find the Auburn Hills Story and my story are intertwined.  We are growing up together one small experience at a time.  It is quite wonderful.