“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin
Find a great mentor, who empowers you to grow, encourages you through your failures and celebrates your successes.
- Build an ongoing relationship by exchanging thoughts and ideas.
- Have two-way conversations.
- Ask questions.
- Listen to feedback.
- Let your mentor know what you did with the information shared.
Daily Hampshire Gazette
B2B ID: Wendy Lane Wright
(Published in print: Monday, July 7, 2014)
How many on your staff: 400
What you do: I cultivate relationships with our supporters and donors as well as raise funds that enable our agency’s mission to serve and improve the lives of 7,000 people each year.
I’ve also supported the mission of our agency as a human resource professional, inspiring, coaching and training staff in the programs that strengthen individuals, families and our community.
Experience: A native Berkshires girl, I connected with nonprofits when I lost my parents at an early age, attending the local YMCA, which stabilized my life and made me smile when my life got rough, giving me a passion for charitable work. Early in my career as a wife and mother of three small children, I worked on finding a sustainable way to put food on our skinny table. To make a better life for my family, I became a community volunteer.
My passion for leadership started when I became an award-winning speaker and community leader as an Extension Specialist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This work fostered a deep desire to help underserved members in my community make positive changes in their lives. So, I decided to attend college, receiving my bachelor’s degree in governmental studies from Smith College with a focus in behavioral psychology, community organization and change.
This experience changed my life for the better, and as a life long learner, I have spent the last 24 years in various nonprofit and volunteer capacities sharing that transformational experience with others.
The Market: Carson provides mental health and rehabilitation services. Today, mental illness afflicts one in four adults and one in ten children.
How you reach out to it: Traditional media, radio, publications, email marketing, presentations and social media. I raise visibility by creating a wider network of support in the Greater Springfield area and beyond through community outreach and collaborative partnerships.
What financing hurdles have you faced and how have you handled them? Carson is primarily funded by state contracts, Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance. These sources don’t cover the full cost of services, so I seek funding from foundations, businesses, community supporters and annual fundraisers.
Key to success: I care about people and use my skills and professional abilities to improve their lives.
Challenges: Carson went from serving 4,500 people a couple years ago to serving 7,000 each year, in 40 communities, from Pittsfield to Ware.
Misstep you learned from: The first federal grant I worked on was initially declined, so I quickly learned to forge successful funder relationships to successfully get that grant.
What others could learn from you: How to inspire groups with a call to action and to make positive change.
Who helped mentor you professionally? Ella Hewins, a former colleague at Old Colony Envelope, is a humble lady who cared for her family during the Great Depression, and now in the era of an ever changing service industry, shared, “show up every day, do your best, and make it happen.” Today her words still inspire me.
Top goals for 2014: I have a deep desire to leave my community more stable, one where my neighbors flourish and grow, by doing everything in my power to provide access to the resources and education that they need to accomplish this.
Advice for others seeking business success: Find a great mentor, who empowers you to grow, encourages you through your failures and celebrates your successes.
Parting thought: Believing that 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.
The B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle of Beetle Press in Easthampton, a PR and communications firm. www.beetlepress.com.
“Believing that 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.”
“I have a deep desire to leave my community more stable, one where my neighbors flourish and grow, by doing everything in my power to provide access to the resources and education that they need to accomplish this.”
Last October, embracing the moment on my travels back from Boston, I took this photo with an I Pad.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
This ad shows the great work my colleagues do at The Carson Center everyday!
Recently I was given the opportunity to create this 19″ visual ad that was published on or around March 31, 2014, in the Westfield News Business & Industry Section.
This ad is part of our 2014 campaign.
Credit for the Website Banner used goes to our website designers and former Development Director “D.” & “A. B.”
Beanie, you must be a rose!
Recently, our life-long friend, Beanie, who baby sat three generations of my family, underwent Hospice Care. This strong lady full of life, smiles, laughter, compassion and great empathy, now lay helplessly. Her body ravaged with cancer.
With wide resolute eyes, Beanie looked at me and asked, “Why me Wendy? I go to church, and I live my life by always giving to others. I have always done the right thing. “
I leaned in closer to her and held her hand. I gently smiled as my throat constricted, and tears flowed down my face. Beanie, you are such a rare and beautiful soul-one in humanity.
I am inspired by the flowers in my garden. By tending to them, they grow and blossom. A symbol of our relationship I hold dear to my heart.
Beanie, you are like a vibrant rose in full bloom with soft and fragile pedals. I tend to the roses in my garden as they grow and blossom. I cut a handful of my best flowers to bring into my home and enjoy.
Beanie, you must be a rose!
This spring, I will plant a rosebush outside my front door in your honor.
If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.” ― Alfred Tennyson
“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
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
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.
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.
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
- This TED Talk – How great leaders inspire action, by Simon Sinek: http://bit.ly/1atkY1A
- First why then trust, by Simon Sinek: http://youtu.be/q-l1CMqORGw
“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
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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
- 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.
My 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
“The best way to resolve any problem in the human world is for all sides to sit down and talk”. ~ Dalai Lama.
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!
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 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”.
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:
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!
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!
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/
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
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.
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
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.
My thoughts are with the people of Somalia and all those who take part in the Doctors Without Borders Program that is ending.
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.
“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.
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.
(*Ella was my colleague and mentor, who later became my Aunt through marriage.)
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.