We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop
I believe I can safely say that all of us have at one time or another have felt like just a drop and have lost sight of the bigger picture. I know I recently felt this way, and I know I am not alone. What we’ve been going through as staff has been reflected in what I share with you each month. The first five months of 2019 I wrote about loss through death and relocation. Heaven and Texas both gained angels as we said farewell to Bill and Carol. We suffered the heartbreaking loss of two special residents who lost their battle with alcoholism. With Frederick Place short staffed, behind the scenes some of us have been working extra hours and long days as the search to find a new member to join our family continued. We’ve had to tell well-liked residents (we thought were doing so well) that they needed to leave for violating our zero-tolerance policy and purposely lying to cover it up. Now, it is unrealistic to think every resident will be a success story, but I can’t recall another year during which we have had only one- “Wow! We really made a difference!” -story in six months. We were in a slump and losing sight of the lives we played a role in changing. Then, as often happens in my life, something happened that turned my frown upside down. I heard from Jennifer; the special resident who made my job easy in December 2018 by allowing me to share with you what she had written on the Frederick Place Facebook page. When Jen left us to move into her own place, she was facing the possibility of prison time and loss of her son to the system. Thankfully, she only received probation and shortly after that court date she sent me this message;
“Eligible for early release from probation. Yep, I have been deemed low risk and as soon as I pay off my costs, they can let me go. Tomorrow I go to court where Judge O’Melia will sign off on me having permanent custody of my son. Yes, all that I have done was made possible by YOU guys. You gave me a safe place and all the resources I needed. I couldn’t have come so far and done so well without the staff at Fred’s. You guys are my family.”
What a warm fuzzy that was! Deep down we all know we make a difference. We just needed to be reminded and Jen’s words did just that!
As we ended our chat, I asked if I could share her news with all of you. She replied, “Yes you can! Anything for you!” I took that “anything” and ran with it by replying, “Position is still open. Lol”
Now I’d been talking to Jen about applying for this open position for a few months. She has amazing insight, a way with words, and can pretty much relate to anyone and everyone. Jen had her reasons for not applying, and I reluctantly quit bringing the subject up….until that night. Imagine my surprise when Jen sent me both her resume and cover letter within an hour of my joking about the position still being available. I put both documents on Tammy’s chair, and an interview was scheduled the next week.
After the interview Jen shared some of her responses and thoughts with me. What follows are a few snippets:
“Many of my answers were based on my experience there and how I would love to be a part of that for others. I’m learning about codependency. I thought how this would be a healthy alternative in an appropriate setting to fulfill the desire to help people and support them in their new beginnings. To be able to earn my living in the place I love with the people I love”
“This would be a source of pride for me because it’s a wonderful place that held me in its warm arms until I could get into the world again. I would love to be a part of that process for others. To see their pride return. To see them through the darkest part of their life in safety and respect. The transformation must be something to witness when it happens right. I want this to be part of my story”
Even on the darkest, most tiring days Tammy could be heard making the statement that the position had not been filled for a reason. Just as I believe Elizabeth Warren “has a plan for that, ” I believe the position was always meant for Jen, but all the pieces hadn’t fallen into place until now. What those pieces are I do not know. Perhaps she had an epiphany while listening to Springsteen’s
Leap of Faith
that prompted her to show some guts and get things going by trusting her heart. Maybe she was just sick of me nagging and thought “Here we go again…” and decided to apply to shut me up. It could be that she just hates doing resumes. More than likely she realized that nothing more than fear of change was holding her back from the next chapter in her story. Whatever the catalyst, I am so very grateful I took a leap of faith and chided her about the position being open.
Jen will officially begin adding to her story when she becomes part of the Fred Family on August 1, 2019.
I see a future full of shift change counseling sessions, sharing of joys and sorrows, and an abundance of laughter. I look forward to the years ahead as we age and take longer to get up and answer the door, fight over donated Christmas and bird sweatshirts, and no longer feel we are too young to be called “ma’am.” It will be an honor and pleasure to be part of the next chapters in Jen’s book of life. My heart is full of gratitude - mixed with a bit of little kid “Ha! I got my way!”
Welcome home, my friend. We’ve missed you.