Do the Best You Can With What You Got

| by Shannon Williams

Nearly 20 years ago I met Judy Bright for lunch at Darryl’s on Hillsborough Street. A mutual friend suggested that we connect. Other than the fact that she worked at the YMCA, I knew nothing about her. 

I was nine months into my new vocation as a mom and I was unsure where my professional life was headed. After a two-hour lunch filled with conversation and laughter, Judy called the waiter over and asked him to bring a sundae and two spoons. Yep, two spoons. I knew right then this was going to be a special relationship. Honestly, I had no idea what was in store. 

When we finished the sundae, Judy offered me a job working part-time as a capital campaign director at the Y. She gave me the opportunity to use my skills and experiences in a meaningful way while maintaining my top priority, being a mom. 

From that point on, Judy became my number one cheerleader—maybe number two behind my Mom. She started a trend that would span two decades, encouraging me to stretch professionally and personally in ways I did not know, or at times, believe I could.  

Over the years, she told everyone we met that she had helped raise me. Raising folks like me was a badge of honor for her and for all of us—and there are lots of us that Judy helped raise through Camps Seafarer and Seagull, the YMCA, and countless other organizations she touched. Truth be told, she did help raise me. 

Judy undoubtedly shaped the professional and the woman that I am today. Her determined leadership, not so subtle prodding, fierce loyalty, and most importantly her love, not only set the standard for me but also helped me push beyond my self-imposed limits. Judy wasn’t afraid to lead, and she wasn’t afraid to love. She did both very, very well. 

One of the greatest lessons Judy taught me was doing the best you can with what you got 

If you asked Judy how she was doing, that was always her response. “I am doing the best I can with what I got.” When she said it, people smiled—every time. 

If you stop to think about it, that simple statement is truth and wisdom. No matter our life’s journeys, professional challenges, or personal accomplishments all we can ever do is the very best we can at any given moment with whatever resources we have.  

have repeated Judy’s mantra thousands of times. My husband says it. My children say it. have shared it with clients, friends, family. Her mantra is now mine, and I will strive to honor her legacy not only by sharing it, but by living as she did with a big smile, a generous heart, a kind spirit, a precise wisdom, a quick wit, and an unyielding love. 

Thank you, Judy, for loving me, investing in me and teaching me how to pay it forward. I love you, Judy Bright 

Let’s clap for that! 

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