Monthly Archives: August 2013

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.

 

(*Ella was my colleague and mentor, who later became my Aunt through marriage.)

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