Home is where the heart is.
Two years ago, I had a conversation that changed the entire direction of my future.
Actually, it was two conversations. The first occurred casually in the hallway during the workday at my former job. The last place I expected to discover something incredible. It’s funny, really. I was talking with a close friend and co-worker. What began (and ended) as a quick conversation triggered a series of events that led me to where I am now in my life. Go figure. Next to the coffee pot and fax machine.
I wasn’t raised in Washington County, but I was active in the community I grew up in, and I was looking for a way to make “here” feel more like “home”. I was intrigued by the thought of working more closely with people. The idea of connecting those who want to help others with those who need them, has been an underlying passion that I’ve held tight for years.
I can’t remember how the conversation drifted this direction, but my friend perked up as she mentioned a place that does that very thing. Almost as if she was electrically shocked. Even her eyes started racing back and forth with excitement.
She was pals with the E.D.She was gonna make a phone call.I should look into the place and maybe there’d be an opportunity to get involved with them somehow.Go visit.Great place.Nonprofit.I might learn something.
She offered good advice. Life changing, in fact.
Obviously, I did what anyone would do: I
researched googled the place.
A week later, the second conversation occurred in a job interview. What I uncovered that day was so precisely what I had been seeking, that I was a bit startled by how well Mary was able to read my mind and point me to this unique place. I forgot all about the job I was applying for and had a chance to reconnect with my own spirit and rekindle what I’ve always known is my true passion in life - helping others.
Presumptuously perhaps, I wasn’t sure what I’d do if I was offered the job. I didn’t care that much, to be honest. I was going to involve this place somehow in fulfilling my goals, but wasn’t confined to the idea of working there. I’d volunteer and that would be enough for me.
By fate, I was offered a job though and I decided to take the risk and go for it. I was committing to a massive change, scared, nervous about making the right choice. Was I really willing to go after my passion head-on? What if I jumped in impulsively?
A few days later, before I officially started the position, I had an opportunity to have breakfast with people who would give me another perspective on the agency. The format was an annual event called People You Should Know. I stumbled (quite literally) out of bed early on a Wednesday morning and sat stalled in 217 traffic - me and Bob Dylan singing together at 7am in the dark, wondering what we’ve committed to.
When I arrived, my new boss perkily greeted me at the door, every bit as friendly and genuine as she was in my interview. I was directed to a warm smiling gentleman, who stood up to shake my hand and humbly offer me a seat next to him. He made me feel welcome, like I belonged at his table. He even poured my coffee for me. I only found out later that he was Chairman of the Board.
What I discovered during the event astounded me. I heard the truth about what’s beneath the surface in our towns. I learned how poverty looks and feels in our neighborhoods. I was shocked to see statistics about our community, and saddened to think of the decisions that so many people are forced to make because they’re affected by the challenges of living on a small budget - or no budget at all. I heard it all confirmed and personified by an aging couple who reminded me of my aunt and uncle, as they muscled through years of emotion and heartache to share their journey with a room full of strangers.
I learned that more important than helping our friends financially, the agency’s greatest gift is reviving hope in those that have searched - and struggled - to find it anywhere else.
I learned that Community Action was about to do the same for me.
My insecurities about accepting the job when I walked into that room, stayed in that room when I left. On the way back, I caught myself smiling silently in the car. The drive out to Hillsboro was bright and sunny.
I found my niche. I made the right choice. I was in the right place.
Two years later, I feel the same way.
Community Action felt strangely familiar to me. Their promise to help people help themselves shot straight to my heart in a matter of moments, like I had been there for years.
Like I had found my way home.
Join us for People You Should Know this year on Wed. November 16!
Click here to register or call 503 693.3230 for more information.
Can’t make it to the event? No worries. Step up a different way.