With hope, inspiration is possible!

Wth hope inspiration is possible

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle”. ~Albert Einstein

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April 16, 2014 · 12:31 pm

“If we change our thoughts from ‘it’s too late’ to, ‘there’s still hope’, we might see some change in the world.” ~Kellie Elmore

Inspirational Leaders

Think of someone who inspired you and made a positive impact in your life.  Maybe a colleague, teacher, counselor, coach, youth leader…

When you’re inspired to make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you’ll make a positive impact in your life too, and build a partnership of trust and mutual respect.

Be inspired to turn challenges into opportunities. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can”. ~Arthur Ashe

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February 11, 2014 · 12:47 am

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ~Pablo Picasso

Frozen Pond-Hope!

We all belong to the cause of humanity.  Give the gift that inspires you to others.  Just maybe you will inspire someone to hope for something they would not have strived for on their own.

 

Great leaders always inspire others to action.
In a TED Talk by Simon Sinek, as noted in an earlier blog, Sinek uses a powerful illustration noting that Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr., did not send out formal invitations to his speeches, nor did he have the date on a website. Yet, people came to hear him speak, because they believed in what he believed.

 

This inspirational TED Talk reveals that Dr. Martin Luther King did not say, I Have a Plan. Instead he said, I Have a Dream.”  How great leaders inspire action, by Simon Sinek:  http://bit.ly/1atkY1A

 

 

Thank you Martin Luther King, Jr., for giving us hope and a dream for a better and more humane world!

 

 

To continue moving forward, we have to look inward, and then we can look outward and begin to make lasting change~WLW.

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“The earth has music for those who listen.” ~ George Santayana

Winter Garden Bird Bath

The light powdery snow outside my window is beautiful!  It’s a great day to grab a cup of tea as I begin to write out my 2014 goals.

bird house in snow 7

A few of my favorite tools that I previously blogged about in 2013 are:

  • Nonverbal communication that’s useful for personal and career transformation!  Inspiring TED Talk – Your body language shapes who you are, by Amy Cuddy: http://bit.ly/1bEdio8

 

 

Snow 2

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“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” ~ Helen Keller

Hope, Success, Love & Health!

I wish you a happy and healthy New Year!

 

Found these 7 good New Year’s Resolutions that take 5 seconds each:  http://bit.ly/1hSslAf

Found a couple  good tips on how to get and stay motivated: http://bit.ly/1fYrWLe

 

For those of you having a tough time, don’t let the disappointments of life overshadow your hope for today and tomorrow, instead choose to encourage yourself because it’s your destiny.

Happy NY

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas 2013!

Christmas Eve 1The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller

Merry Christmas to all our family and friends near and far!

Wishing you all a warm, safe and healthy day today! We are having an awesome family day playing games and listening to some great music on Pandora.

For those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, we wish you a warm, safe and healthy day too!

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December 25, 2013 · 5:00 pm

“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

Human Compassion 2

My deepest thoughts, prayers and sympathies go the friends, families and communities of the typhoon-ravaged Philippines. My soul cannot fathom the heart wrenching fatalities, delays in supplies of food, water and medical supplies.

 

I pray that in the aftermath of this catastrophic natural disaster that through the collective act of global human compassion and empathy that needed resources will be effectively mobilized to provide help.

 

I am also praying for:
Four Pendleton Marines killed
www.utsandiego.com

Range maintenance accident to blame. This is where my close family member C. is right now. We have no reason to believe that he was injured, but as my daughter said “it’s pretty freaky to wake up and read an article about 4 marine trainees being killed during the same training phase, at the same place your kid is…with no communication. If you are the praying kind of folk, please keep C. in your prayers during his enlistment and the families of the Marines that died.”

 

It is with gratitude that I THANK all of YOU who serve and sacrifice so that I may be free–yesterday, today, and tomorrow…

 

It is also with gratitude that I call attention to National Philanthropy Day. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) “acknowledges the entire spectrum of services provided by the nonprofit community and recognizes the profound impact that philanthropy has on the fabric of society.”

 

I am so humbled to see the good work that so many people are doing by sharing their time, talent and treasure in my community and around our world, including the Philippines.

 

AFP and community friends gathered at the Log Cabin on Wednesday to honor people who care enough to make our world a better place, and work to make it a reality.

 

They are a group of altruistic leaders and a pattern appeared as they each accepted an award from AFP for their contributions to the greater good.  Each leader from the youngest to the most seasoned awardees deflected credit from self, and gave credit to their team.  “No person owns all the ideas; no one person can make all ideas work…it takes a team, like the Boston Red Sox…” ~G.T.

 

Several of these local leaders noted that they were influenced by a mentor, coach or someone in their life that inspired them.

 

The kindness of a stranger.
After the AFP luncheon I recalled a story of someone who profoundly inspired me. Years ago I took my 10-year-old son to a Falcons hockey game.  A gentleman approached us and started a conversation with my son.  As a mom, I was on red alert of stranger danger.

 

Yet somehow, the demeanor of this man calmed my soul, just a bit. I listened, observed and learned.

 

This man asked my son if he liked hockey. “You bet”, S. replied with a grin. The gentleman said, “I like to give what I have away”, and asked my permission to give S. the shiny coin he was holding in his hand-a gold dollar.  I responded and let the stranger know that I always taught my children not to accept a gift from a stranger, but thank you for your kindness. He smiled and nodded his head in unsaid agreement.

 

Then the stranger and S. engaged in a two-way conversation about how cool hockey and Ameila Park are.  The stranger introduced himself as Albert Ferst. “I named Ameila Park  in honor of my late wife, Ameila.”  “We shared a belief in creating a place for kids like you to spend time with friends and just have fun.”  As a humbly embarrassed mom, in an instant I recognized this community leader, and allowed him to give S. that shiny gold coin.

 

That act of random kindness was a life changing moment that taught S. and I the altruistic meaning of time, talent and treasure!

 

I was in the presence of someone who dedicated his life to revitalizing his community and making life better for others.  A true change agent!  To think my first instinct was stranger danger, we could have missed an important lesson in human compassion if I did not calmly listen and learn from this man.

 

“Giving of any kind… taking an action… begins the process of change, and moves us to remember that we are part of a much greater universe. ” ~ Mbali Creazzo

 

These two photos are from an ornate hand carved piece of furniture was made by a family friend from the Philippines.

Hand Carved 2Hand Carved 1

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“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” – Cicero

Autumn - Jane Eyre & Cup of Tea

Happy Sunday everyone!  It’s a good day to take a walk, and enjoy a book with a hot cup of tea.

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What are your aspirations?

Autumn Red Tree and Pond 1

Believe  that you can succeed!

 

Pursue your aspirations with persistence.

 

The thought of being the first in my family to earn a college degree has deeply inspired me to continue on that path.

 

As an Ada Comstock Scholar from Smith College, I remember the day that I received my acceptance letter.   While the sun was shining down on me, in the parking lot of the Middle/High School complex, I opened that letter.  I was scheduled to manage 4 after school programs, an adult GED program, and had 3 children waiting for me at home.  My youngest was entering kindergarten.

 

In the weeks that followed, I thought Smith College made a huge mistake by sending me that acceptance letter.  That letter was meant for someone else.  There must have been a mail merge mistake!

 

I was just a mom and community volunteer, certainly not worthy of Smith.  Yet, my thirst for something better for my life, for my children, family, friends and community gave me the fierce passion to persevere.

 

I vividly remember the beautiful autumn trees, as I sat on the front steps of the Smith College Library between mid-term exams.  Until that moment, I never knew all that I did not know.  “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” ~ Socrates

 

Resources
Here’s a trick from Stephen Covey in his book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,  Habit 2: Begin the with the end in mind.

 

What is your destination?  What are your aspirations, your values?

 

To better align career pursuits and aspirations, seek out resources.  Attend workshops, conferences, take some classes, take webinars, read blogs and read relevant publications to constantly be on top of the changes in the nonprofit landscape.

 

A few years ago, in a TED Talk, Simon Sinek shared the way human beings receive and respond to messaging: People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

 

He used a powerful illustration noting that Dr. Marin Luther King did not send out formal invitations to his speeches, nor did he have the date on a website.  Yet, people came to hear him speak, because they believed in what he believed.

 

This TED Talk reveals that Dr. Martin Luther King did not say, I Have a Plan.  Instead he said, I Have a Dream.”  How great leaders inspire action, by Simon Sinek:  http://bit.ly/1atkY1A

 

A couple weeks ago I attended a conference with Kim Klien:  Building a Resilient Fundraising Program.  She had us develop a statement to use prior to an elevator speech, or sharing our mission statement.  Although they are generally good, they are the goal oriented things we do.  People often forget goal oriented discussions.  Instead she encourages starting a nonprofit conversation with an organizational statement beginning with, “We believe”.

 

We only live this life once, so it is important to be of value by using our time, talent and treasure to make positive lasting change for good.

 

We will never pass through this moment in time again, so pursue all of your aspirations with persistence.

 

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If it weren’t for great people like you…

anne

I’m inspired by this card and act of kindness by my colleague, Anne.  We have a professional relationship based on mutual respect.

 

Building mutual respect is essential in building strong and happy relationships.

photo (83)

I am so inspired by this gift that I’ve been sending a donor, colleague or volunteer a brief note of appreciation each day.

 

I’ve met so many people who just want to see positive change for good in the places they live, work and play.

 

 Autumn Lily Pad Reflections 

Autumn Lily Pad Reflections 1

Effective leaders:

 

  •   Don’t lead alone, instead they empower others.

 

  •  Take responsibility for their actions and encourage the responsible behavior of others.

 

  •  Collaborate and follow through on assigned tasks.  Collective experiences and perspectives can foster the best possible ideas, opportunities, solutions and outcomes.

 

  •   Establish and maintain mutual respect by establishing respect for the values and perspectives of others.

 

  •  Use effective communication tools such as reflective listening.  Listening and immediately repeating back what was said, ensuring things were perceived correctly.

 

  •  Have the drive and inspiration to turn challenges into opportunities. “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have”. –Teddy Roosevelt.

The Human Service Forum shared this TED Talk that examines how happiness inspires productivity.  The happy secret to better work: http://bit.ly/17EFWDD

Daniel Goleman shares Don’t Write Off the Coaching Leadership Style:  http://linkd.in/1bt4tj7  This post gives some great tips on how to help employees grow and become more engaged.

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Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. –Albert Einstein

 

Autumn ReflectionsMy late sister used to say, “I love Autumn because every year God paints the earth for my Birthday!” To celebrate we would arrange a free afternoon together.  We would take a ride and enjoy the local Autumn view, and the companionship of our sisterhood.  We always finished her day with a maple flavored cup of coffee.

 

She chose to share her gifts of compassion, empathy, humility and gentleness as a nurse.  She also volunteered at her local church as treasurer of the World Missions Committee.  She took pride in accounting for all the donations that would be sent oversees to help provide missionaries and their communities with food, shelter, medical supplies, including Band-Aids.  World missions was a cause she felt deeply compassionate about.

 

As I made my journey through town today, I passed the church my sister attended her entire adult life. Although she has been gone for more than a decade, I reminisced for a moment about the people who helped our family carry out her final wishes.

 

At her passing we learned that the funeral could not be in her church.  The back steps and ramp were covered in snow.  They had rotted out and could not support the weight of a casket.  Our community made my sister’s final wishes a reality.  A kind soul plowed out the entrance, and a small “interfaith community build” began.  New steps and a ramp were installed by volunteers, including the owner of our local hardware store, along with family, church and community members.  All materials were donated at cost.

 

This freed my soul, so I could grieve and write her eulogy, including this excerpt: “As my body began to weaken, I as you, realized that my “Golden Surgery” would never come to pass.  I am now home in heaven.”  “My life here on earth mattered because of the relationship I shared with each of you.  My sorrow is for you, as I am now in a far better place.”

 

Today, as I turned to walk up the hill, a gentle breeze brushed my face, and then I noticed the sun glistening over my sisters final resting place.  Daisies placed delicately by her side in remembrance of her mind, body and soul. Gone but never forgotten!  Her gentle and humble spirit continues to inspire her family, friends and community.

 

This day will only come once for you and I, so be sure to enjoy it, and help someone else enjoy it, too!

 

Now, I will indulge in a cup of maple coffee.

 

Articles, resources and tips.

Network for Good posted some resources and inspiration for the next 90 days: http://bit.ly/1fgTQF0

 

Harvard Business posted this quick but good read: http://hbr.org/product/hbr-guide-to-coaching-your-employees/an/17065-KND-ENG

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“The best way to resolve any problem in the human world is for all sides to sit down and talk”. ~ Dalai Lama.

Colorful Autumn Pond Reflection 1

This photo was taken on a long and winding country road.  Fall has always been one of my favorite times of year.  The beauty that surrounds New England is breathtaking.  I always look forward to the change in seasons!

 

This photo was taken so far from Washington and the looming government shutdown.  Yet the lay offs (furloughs) are impacting more and more people everyday.  From nonessential Technicians on our military bases to Early Education…

 

Still our elected officials continue to be paid while also accruing benefits.  Perspective – From the beginning of the government shutdown until its resolve, the least each of you can do is donate all your gross earnings - not  just a portion - to a charity!

 

What will be the legacy of this government shutdown – these elected officials?  

 

As posted in my last blog: What impact will the “Government Shutdown” have on individuals, families, communities, nonprofits and charitable giving, …?  This article by The Chronicle of Philanthropy caught my attention:  http://bit.ly/19YPPO3  “We elect officials to govern, and when they fail in their obligations they get a failing grade from us,” said Diana Aviv, president of Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofit and foundation leaders said at her organization’s annual meeting today. “Shutting down government hurts communities, it hurts poor people, it hurts families. It’s time for them to get back to the business of governing.”

 

We need to strengthen individuals, families and communities! 

 

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October 4, 2013 · 9:28 pm

Legacy Reflections

Legacy Reflections

I took this amateur photo last Saturday. 

As I reflected, I pondered what I will be remembered for?  What is my legacy to my children, grandchildren, family and community? What can I give?  Time, talent, integrity, love, empathy, resources…?

What do you want to be remembered for?

 

Food, Family & Fun

Food, family and fun!  

I spent last weekend visiting with family and friends.  It was my great nephew’s Birthday.  My nephew smoked a brisket along with some pulled pork.  We had a family picnic by this fireplace – laughing and celebrating life.  

 

Life can be so bittersweet! We laughed and fought back tears, often at the same time.  It was a happy and sad day.  It was the one year anniversary of the death of a family member, “Uncle Piggy“.  Last April he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away on September 28th, 2012.

 

Perspective – My sister and her husband worked their entire life, like so many people, and never had the opportunity to retire.

 

Gone, but not forgotten! “Uncle Piggy” earned his nickname some 35 years ago when he told my sister she was “a piggy for eating coffee ice cream”.

Auntie & Uncle Piggy

His niece looked up with wide and resolute eyes, purposely sharing: “Auntie is not a piggy, you are”!  That nickname stayed with him through my sister’s funeral and his – not just by my family, but by his entire family and all of our extended friends, too.

 

Knowing we all belong to the family of humanity, and life is finite inspires me to listen to others and work toward lasting change for good – Inspire it…Enjoy it…Do it!

 

My boss shared this insightful GuideStar article.  http://www.guidestar.org/rxa/news/articles/2013/befriending-your-donors.aspx?hq_e=el&hq_m=2088457&hq_l=18&hq_v=36f0e74a2a

 

“Self-confidence combined with interest in other people. These are individuals willing to look me in the eye, offer a firm handshake, and show curiosity. They’re willing to engage, and, most important, they show a talent for listening… The first three letters of fundraising are “f-u-n,” after all.”  -  Thomas Wolf

 

Thank you GuideStar for sharing this blog post yesterday on Google+: Teaching philanthropy – yes, it works!  http://ow.ly/phLvk

 

That blog post links to a study on How Parents Teach Charitable Giving matters:
http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/news/article/women-give-2013

 

What impact will the government shutdown have on individuals, families, communities, charitable giving, nonprofits…?  This article from Philanthropy Today caught my attention: http://philanthropy.com/article/Government-Shutdown-What-It/142021/?cid=pt&utm_source=pt&utm_medium=en  “We elect officials to govern, and when they fail in their obligations they get a failing grade from us,” said Diana Aviv, president of Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofit and foundation leaders said at her organization’s annual meeting today. “Shutting down government hurts communities, it hurts poor people, it hurts families. It’s time for them to get back to the business of governing.”

 

What will be the legacy of this government shutdown – these elected officials?

 

We need to help strengthen individuals, families and communities!

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Leadership is not for everyone!

Title

Like everyone else, a leader must also take time to enjoy life and nurture their own well-being of mind, body and soul.

 

In part, successful leaders are great mentors, coaches, negotiators, and administrators who ensure employees can grow, develop and stay engaged in the workplace.  Ensuring high quality services are delivered by well qualified staff.

 

Exceptional leaders are the primary basis for maintaining, and upholding a strong sense of employee satisfaction and excellent services are delivered, while maintaining fiscal stability.

 

A good administrator ensures the best possible care of staff because they are fundamental to organizational success.

 

Leadership is not for everyone!  To those exceptional leaders who lead by example with integrity and perseverance - THANK YOU!

Kyaking

 

Great post on Google+ on the life time value of your work that actually causes some self-reflection on the big picture. http://tombufordmarketing.com/determine-lifetime-value-work/

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September 27, 2013 · 12:59 pm

“Change your thoughts and you can change your world” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Pansies in my garden 1

Tuesday Tips

Talk about nonverbal communication that’s useful for personal and career transformation!  Thank you Future Works Career Center for sharing this very inspiring TED TalkYour body language shapes who you are, By Amy Cuddy:  http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

I recently used this very simple, yet phenomenal donor retention calculation tool to create an updated donor-centered strategy: http://101fundraising.org/2013/07/a-simple-retention-calculation-packs-a-powerful-punch/#comments

I use this outline tool when comparing agency priorities with a foundation areas of interest: http://foundationcenter.org/findfunders/wrksheet/

As I dredged through my Monday morning sea of emails, I smiled as I opened the following collegial and uplifting message from Pamela Grow:

“Good morning Wendy, If you’ve been looking to land more corporate sponsorships for your organization, you’re going to love this series of free videos from Chris Davenport and Shanon Doolittle (two of my favorite people in the whole world).

Check ‘em out.

Thanks.  Wishing you an amazing week!”

 

I would like to pay this collegial and uplifting spirit forward and wish all of you an amazing week, too!

 

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We Learn From Others

Hummingbird Enjoying Bee Balm

I learn from others, grow and change,  as I attend or present at workshops, take webinars, read blogs and read relevant publications to constantly be on top of the changes in the nonprofit landscape.

 

Based on your feedback, I have decided to continue my regular Friday posts and will helpful resources and tips that I find at low-cost or no cost – Tuesday Tips.

 

I don’t know about you as the readers of this blog, but I love and dread networking events.  By participating, I learn what is important to others. What are they interested in.  What tools and resources they find helpful.

 

In August, I attended a networking event for the Association for Fundraising Professionals, Western MA Chapter. I am a former member of that association with eligibility to rejoin, so it was fun to meet newer members and find old friends.  I enjoyed our discussions.  Below are some resources and links based on those discussions, as well as a lens into my process when seeking and writing a grant.

 

If your organization doesn’t have a professional account with the Foundation Center you can create your own at:
http://foundationcenter.org/profile/register.jhtml;jsessionid=MFVSMIPJEP4WJLAQBQ4CGXD5AAAACI2F  I have found the information on this site helpful.  You can track the courses you complete, and some are free.  There is even a short introduction on how to write a grant proposal.

 

I also use the following link when I am doing grant research and/or learning about the interest areas of a grantor: http://foundationcenter.org/

 

This is one blog that I do make time to read: http://www.pamelagrow.com/   It is full of very helpful resources and links.

 

A great workshop I recently attended was Empowering Your Stakeholders to Become Network Weavers, presented by Debra Askanase: http://www.slideshare.net/Debask/empowering-stakeholders-to-become-network-weavers

 

Prior to this workshop I did not consider myself a network weaver.  Yet, in person I am, but I am always learning and will now weave the resources and tips I learned into my social media strategy.  Thank you Debra Askanase and Women in Philanthropy of Western MA.  I will start small by exploring and networking a little more on Twitter and Google+.

 

Still, there is only so much time in a day.  Like some of my colleagues who attended the workshop that day, all my social media time is now spent outside work hours.  Still, I am and learning.  Thank you for your patience!

 

Evening at Reservoir 2

Last Friday, with an invitation by my C.E.O., I also attended an inspiring breakfast hosted by our local Business Chamber at Barnes Air National Guard Base.  I was so humbled to get an update of the changes, updates and vision for this Base and the 104th Fighter Wing.  It was nice to learn about the support of the local community as well as the collaboration and support from the Local, State and Federal Governments.  The changes and ongoing activities range from facility enhancements to supporting service members and their families.

 

My thoughts and prayers are with every member of our armed forces who serve, or have served our Country.

 

My condolences go out to the U.S. Navy, their families, friends and communities for the recent tragedy and losses this week.

 

According to media sources this tragedy allegedly happened by someone afflicted with Mental Illness.  A statistic from the National Alliance on Mental  Illness: 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children experience mental illness: http://www.nami.org

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A Great Mentor Inspires Positive Growth!

Honey

Meet Honey!  She is now 14 years old.  When I first got her, she fit in the palm of my hand.  She makes me smile!

 

During the past 14 years, one manager invested in me and helped me move into the next level of my career.  We learned from each other through upfront conversations, even in difficult times.  An excerpt of what he wrote “A great deal has been accomplished during a very problematic year.  As we review these accomplishments and plan for the future, we need to be realistic and optimistic.  It has been great working with you Wendy.  I look forward to planning for the future and putting our plans into operation.”   He set realistic benchmarks, performance expectations and mutually agreed upon goals.

 

Prior to my evaluation, I had to rate my performance on 37 benchmarks and goals; he would separately complete the evaluation.  Then we had a two-way conversation.  Prior to those meetings, I recall my hands feeling cool and clammy like a cucumber.  Though I dreaded those conversations, I grew.

 

Our discussions often gave us  different perspectives and ideas that got results.  Why?  We had a meaningful professional relationship based on mutual respect.  I valued his opinion; he valued my effort, ideas and feedback.  My work had value!

 

Under his leadership, as noted in a performance review I “established meaningful professional relationships, respected by clients, funders, staff and other area professionals”.  Within six months of being employed, I was promoted me to his Senior Management Team.  I stayed on his team, until he retired.

 

A great mentor inspires positive growth!  When you do find the balance of a mutually beneficial relationship it inspires profound growth, engagement and results.

 

Everyday, I am inspired by all the meaningful relationships that empower me to care, have empathy, continually learn, grow and change.  That is what inspires me to make a difference where I live, work and play.

 

The Human Service Forum shares a great read by Forbes: 6 Reasons Leaders Make Bad Decisions https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#inbox/1411231666bde2b6

 

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. ~ Helen Keller

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The Interconnected Journey Continues

Chris & Una ~ Photo shared by Steven Hamill

Photo shared by Steven Hamill

 

My YMCA friends from Ireland, Una and Chris, got married last week.  They continue to share their journey through posts and pictures of their honeymoon in real-time on Facebook.  Social Media is a wonderful way to stay connected with others and learn.

 

While I enjoy the interconnected value of social media, I still choose to pursue face-to-face communications when feasible for personal and professional reasons. I am inspired by learning from people like Una and Chris in our shared global community. A few years ago, when I first invited Una and Chris to my home they were college-aged employees who took part in a local YMCA that sponsors an international work exchange program.

 

Through that same program, my family and I get to know a few of these employees each summer. Because they are so far from home, we host a dinner party at our home, in their honor. They rave about getting a home cooked meal and the gift of mere hospitality, fun, laughter and friendship.

 

Last Saturday my family and I hosted another dinner party for five of our YMCA friends who will be returning to their homes in Hungary, Slovakia and Ireland, over the next couple weeks.  Because I took the time to meet with them in person, I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about each of them, including their backgrounds, cultures and aspirations.  By coming to our home, they shared perspectives in how they view “Western Culture” through the lens of an average American worker.

 

I make my living by nurturing person-to-person relationships.  Within the scope of my position, I work at being an effective communicator, mentor and coach.  I seek ways to help colleagues and donors grow by listening and validating their interests, while tending to the tools and resources that help them stay interested and engaged in our shared work of providing the best possible services to improve the lives of the people we serve.  What could be more inspiring and empowering than the opportunity to pursue a shared journey to strengthen our community?

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Inspiring Leadership

Daisy By WLW 

I was privileged to speak at the Urban Youth Collaborative Program (UYCP) Gala, at The Log Cabin on August 22, 2013.

 

Family members of my late Executive Director attended the Gala, because an award was being presented in his honor.

 

I began the speech with – Be inspired and empowered to make a difference. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~ Lori Siebert

 

At the end of my presentation, I received a thunderous applause by attendees. I also received double thumbs-up, a contagious smile and a strong hug by the inspirational leader who has led this program for 22 years.  Then the son of my late Executive Director crossed the room, gave me a hug and thanked me.  I was so deeply humbled.

 

Here are a few selections from that speech:  David was a humble man, who would often send me out to speak for him.  As my mentor, he would want me to share:  What a beautiful day it is for the 22nd Gala!  Looking back, I was privileged to be present for 18 Gala’s.  I can’t make this one, but my thoughts are with you.

 

You know what’s special about the UYCP?  You are!  Yes, you make UYCP special!  You have dedicated your time and talent to make life a little better for yourself; and for the children and adults you have worked with.  Thank you!

 

You transform our community.  Your voices bring excitement and joy!

 

As a mentor, the songs you sing, the games you play, the skits you perform, the art classes, the swings and slides and rock climbing, even the sound system blaring away – all bring new life and excitement to the area.  It is really special.

 

I closed the speech with – The Urban Youth Collaborative Program is a vital workforce leadership development program across the State of MA.  This program is vital in making a difference in lives of the people we serve.  Some day maybe it will be a National program, but for now it is making a difference in our community.

 

To continue moving forward, we have to look inward, before we can look outward and make lasting change.

 

If you don’t think there is a need for such a program in our community then I invite you to share your thoughts with me after the Gala.

 

Together we are a kaleidoscope of humanity building on our collective experiences, perspectives, and cultures to ensure the best possible thinking, ideas, opportunities and solutions are considered as we work to provide quality services for every member of our shared community, including those with developmental disabilities and behavioral issues.

 

Why is the Urban Youth Collaborative Program so important? You are the next generation of community leaders!

 

I will leave you with a quote:  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

 

Thank you!

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The Legend & Journey of Una and Chris

Una & Chris

To a very special couple,

 

They separately crossed the vast Atlantic Ocean and met in the US of A,

 

At a YMCA Camp;

 

Then together traveled back to Belfast.

 

Now you have invited us to share in the rest of your journey together;

 

To be wed in Ireland this week.

 

You both bring smiles as we have watched you plan for one of the biggest days of your life on Facebook!

 

It brings inspiration to see the love, commitment and fun you are having along the way as you celebrate life and each other.

 

You are truly an inspiration of kindred spirits and love.

 

It is with great regrets that we cannot attend.

 

We send you our love and best wishes;

 

Our hearts and spirits are with you and we fully support you on your new journey together.

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Doctors Without Borders

Praying for Peace

My thoughts are with the people of Somalia and all those who take part in the Doctors Without Borders Program that is ending.
http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/news/story.jhtml?id=434200009

 

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“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~Lori Siebert

Butterfly 3

I am in the process of writing a speech that I’ve been asked to deliver at an upcoming Gala. 

 

 

In preparation I looked back through previous speeches that I have written and found the following Excerpt from a Groundbreaking Award Ceremony.  “We have a lot of reasons to say “thank you” David for all the contributions that you have made over the last 31 years. 

 

 

The first thought that comes to mind is the extraordinary effort you’ve put into everything you’ve done.  You have transformed so many lives through your work, including the time you have dedicated as a volunteer serving on the boards of local, regional and state nonprofits to build stronger communities.  

 

David began his long and dedicated career by playing an instrumental role in bringing children out of the Belchertown State School and finding ways to integrate those children into their community.  He worked to get them into group homes, apartments, involved them in public schools, and gave them access to area parks and shopping malls.  Although there is more work to be done in this area today, we thank you David, for the ground work you started by being part of this exciting and challenging national movement. 

 

No job is easy all of the time and some people would say your work David as an Executive Director is not easy.  But you always have an optimistic outlook on what historically has been done, a vision of what needs to be done, and a strategic plan for what will get done. 

 

David’s famous words around the office are “to be continued”, and David we thank you for all the innovative contributions that you continue to make in our agency and community.” 

 

David has since passed away.  He was an inspirational leader who empowered me and all those around him to grow.  He was a true change agent that made life better for others.

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Inspiring Camp Spirit

Butterfly 2 By WLW

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

 

One counselor shouts encouragement to Lee as she pushes his wheelchair on the pavement in a spirograph motion.  A smile illuminates across Lee’s face as he watches the artwork he’s creating with sidewalk chalk that’s fastened to his footrests.  He laughs as he shouts faster, left, right, bigger, bigger, bigger!

 

Every eye is now captivated by Lee’s excitement, as campers and counselors from the nature trail to the playscape move closer. Creating a circle of encouragement around him.  Every person is clapping and shouting, “Go Lee, go!”

 

Although Lee moves around using a wheelchair, his contagious smile and boasting pride show he’s just like any other kid at summer camp.  He’s having fun, learning, growing and developing a sense of belonging - he’s included.

 

Lee has attended camp for more than a decade. Last year his mother said, “No other camp in our area provides this level of safety and inclusion.  I worry about what will happen to Lee, if something happens to me.  I am hopeful, because Lee’s not just attending camp. He’s building a community and support network of life-long friends.”

 

*Name and other details are disguised to preserve confidentiality.

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Pondering the path of perseverance and leadership

Angel 2 - Back

Yesterday, I celebrated my Aunt Ella’s 93rd Birthday.  She is a humble woman who cared for her family during the great depression, the industrial revolution, and now the era of an ever-changing service industry.

As I reflected on Aunt Ella’s perseverance and path in life, I also thought about some other leaders that I know who are mentors, coaches and play a role in ensuring employees grow, develop and stay engaged in their work. Not always an easy task.

I had no idea one of the Interns I laid off, and later rehired, would be speaking at a conference; and he did not know I would be in the audience.  Yet, he delivered such a captivating and riveting leadership speech to his peers and State Officials that I had goose bumps, and had to fight back the tears.

This is a small except of K’s speech given at the State House in Boston:  “I had worked at Camp for a couple of summers.  In 2008, we were very aware of the economic crisis and the threat that it posed to our program, and I cannot begin to recall the number of letters that were written to the people who work in this building, pleading for the funding to keep us open. We managed to get through that summer, and, after a long winter of uncertainty, I applied again to Camp.

Things looked bleak as the summer began. To put it succinctly, Wendy let me know the camp did not have funding to hire me. Soon enough, though, I received a call explaining that Camp was being run by Interns and, as luck would have it, a position had become available.  I eagerly accepted the job of Recreation Specialist.”

Five years ago, we were on the cusp of the global economic downturn and my agency merged into another agency that had a new culture and values.

I considered leaving and specializing, but had just come from a staff leadership position in a capital campaign, asking for donor funds.  We had just completed the construction of a new building for our programs; and those programs experienced significant budget cuts.  Ethically, I could not just walk away from our donors who made that building possible, or our program participants.

At the time there was already two development staff working on fund development.  My new development role was solely as a grant writer.  Although I did share that securing grants is not long-term sustainable funding;  I had to seek urgent grant funding for our programs.

In 2009, budget cuts got much worse.  The day before our summer camp opened we lost the state funding that provided financial aid to at-risk campers so they could attend camp, and paid for staff positions.

In my HR role, I was solely accountable to lay off many staff who I knew had great leadership potential based their qualifications, experience, background and aspirations.  That was a very bad day for staff, campers, their families and our donors.

The camp program was then staffed by a State sponsored college intern program. We opened camp, but with less campers and staff. Why?  Because Camp is a loved community program due to our inclusive approach in working with campers with and without disabilities – beautiful children from all walks of life.

The Camp has opened every year since 1975, at a time when children with disabilities had no place to go in the summer and remained at home while their siblings and peers could go to summer camps. When an innovative group of parents and professionals decided to start a summer camp that would include them in the mainstream of traditional youth activities. This model of full-inclusion to learn, grow, and play continues today.

Campers attend camp so parents can work during the summer months.  Every summer parent’s share that Camp helps their child develop skills in positive socialization, increased self-esteem, physical activity, self-control, anger management, and daily living skills.

For me, there is always opportunity to be inspired, learn, grow and change. I’ve been seeking a full-time position to specialize, and when my family can afford it, I do intend to complete the application and testing required for certification.

In June my esteemed full-time development colleague left.  She handled everything in fund development, except grant writing and our very recent shared role in marketing.

Now I am moving away from human resources and grant writing; and falling rapidly forward into fund development.  It is a little daunting because most of the Development Officers I have known, experience very high turnover rates.

Yet, I started down the path of fund development 23+ years ago, as a mom and community volunteer to make a lasting change for good where I work, play and live.

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What Inspires Me: The Gift of Friendship

Garden Art By WLW

While spending time in my back yard taking this amateur photo, I reflected on how in college, I not only immersed myself in courses like the business ethics of multi-national corporations and international politics, I also had the opportunity to interact with people from different parts of our shared global community. I liked that because I am not an island of one; no Country is an island of one; we are all part of a global community that spans across our entire world.

For the past 15 years, I have been inspired to continue learning from people in our shared global community. Mostly college-aged employees who take part in a local YMCA that sponsors an international work exchange program.  Every summer, my family and I get to know a couple of these employees.  Because they are so far from home, we host a dinner party at our home, in their honor. They rave about getting a home cooked meal and the gift of mere hospitality, fun, laughter and friendship.

Una and Chris, both from Ireland, met in America through their work at the YMCA.  I cooked a New England-Irish dinner on their behalf with corned beef, onions, potatoes, carrots and cabbage.  When I told Una what was for dinner she asked “is corned beef like ground beef”?  Imagine in a kaleidoscope of different cultures and food, they never had a New England-Irish dinner.  Not until they met me.

Because I often work long hours, the entire meal was cooked in multiple crock pots.  I also cook no fuss meals so I can actually visit with guests. As I was slicing the rather large slab of corned beef, I invited them to watch.  With collegial curiosity, wide and resolute eyes they watched me plate the entire meal.  There were no left overs. We had many laughs and shared many stories.

They have come back to see us a couple of times. When we get together, they do not laugh about the large slab of corned beef, but about the first time they ate boiled onions.

I am inspired by this mere gift of friendship.

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Be Inspired…Inspire Others…

I am a change agent that loves to help donors, volunteers and employees use their time, talent and treasure to make lasting change for good – Inspire it…Enjoy it…Do it…Wendy Lane-Wright

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