My pastor called me recently to provide support after the sudden loss of a long-time staff member. After we hung up, I paused to reflect on my mechanical responses. I was numb. And I realized that two years of unrelenting loss and challenges will do that to you.
When you work with people, you come to expect that loss is a part of the lifecycle. We’ve lost some really good people in the last few years: Karen, with her spunky and deeply caring spirit. She never missed an opportunity to ask me how my kids were, or to say “Hello!” and “How are you?” to them. Lance, to whom I was the “big boss.” He was both patient in waiting for and persistent in asking for, a new house to call home. He loved to tease me about the construction process, and when it would be his turn. Tessa, whose big heart was sometimes masked by bravado and bluster. Cindy, who was on my caseload when I worked direct support. She always had a hug and a smile. Steve never met a stranger and would give the shirt off his back to anyone he thought was in need. Tim, whose loss has left a hole in this world that I dare not approach for fear I will fall in and be swept away. Gary, who will never again kiss my cheek gently in hello or goodbye. And now Connie, spirited, fiercely honest, funny.
New folks will come, new relationships will be forged. And for at least a moment, I need to be able to stop, reflect, and mourn the loss of these incredible souls that I get to work with every day.
So, for right now, inspiring others to act, leading others, is happening on mute. Now, more than ever before, I’m leaning on our community to lift us up and move us forward.
Making a Difference. Together.
I’m counting on all of you, each of you, to carry the banner forward. To be great community partners. To give until it feels good. To find ways to support each other and create a sense of belonging. After all, this give and take, this mutual support, is the essence of community. We become our best selves as others encourage us, motivate us, lift us up.
Be a voice of hope.
I am one. Each of us is only one. We can only do so much on our own. We can only be in one place at a time, and there’s much to do, and many hands needed.
We’ve identified four major ways we need support – ways you can participate that are meaningful, that require small amounts of your time and/or resources, and make a big difference:
- Spend time getting to know and becoming friends with one or more of our clients.
- Work at one of our special events.
- Assist us with special projects.
- Join a committee or planning group.
- Be a community partner. Work with us to accomplish mutual goals.
- Be a donor. Help support our programming with needed funds.
- Become an advocacy champion. Tell others our story and encourage legislators and others to support disability services.
When we come together, we spread the burden across many backs. Together we can change the landscape of disability services.