So my LinkedIn profile sent me an alert recently reminding me that I’ve now been in my position as program coordinator for a year. Wow, in some ways a year doesn’t seem long, however it seems hard to remember what it was like before I took on this role. And in that time the Orange County groups trained for 2 separate half marathons, Portland groups have trained for 2 races, Spokane has started up and completed a race, Vegas is in the midst of training, and Seattle and Orange County are gearing up to start again. Phew! So, what did I learn so far? This has been a year of incredible growth for me. I’m sure this doesn’t encompass everything, however here’s 12 things for the last 12 months.
1. Skills- We are just going to list all of these in one category: excel work, webinars attending, website editing, database structuring, creating videos, applying for grants, and more. This is not a list of my qualifications. Oh no! These are all things I had minimal to no experience in and have had to jump in and learn and hopefully will keep improving.
2. Steve Tierney- My boss. A man with incredible heart for the homeless. A man who sees potential in others and wants to bring them up to what he believes in them. Not only does he see that in all the participants at the rescue mission, but he saw something in me (that I wouldn’t have necessarily seen) and took a chance on me. A man that somehow is a great father, will be in Portland doing a banquet one day and the next be in Orange County doing a banquet, then race and did I mention has a full time job as an accountant?
3. Parallels- In some ways my life and background is so different from many at the rescue missions. On the other hand, I’ve found so many parallels. I struggled years ago in several jobs and found myself doubting of my abilities and what I could do. Just as URA helps participants to strive to do what they feel is impossible or difficult, this position has been a stretch for me and all along the way has improved my confidence in what I’m capable of.
4. Public speaking- Yep, this was my biggest fear. Slowly it is becoming less and less frightful as I’m practicing and putting myself out there. Again, just as running, it is about taking baby steps and eventually your confidence grows and it becomes easier. But, don’t be booking me for endorsements and major speaking engagements yet!
5. Family support- I’ve learned that what I do, and what I’m able to do, is only possible with my family’s support. Between my husband watching the kids on Saturday mornings so I can run the training, to kids helping out at a water station, it has been a learning process for us all. Good thing my husband is good with electronics and has provided me tech support on more occasions than I care to admit. I’ve dragged my kids into Starbucks to pick up donations and the URA storage unit on frequent occasions. My kids now call all running or running clothes Up and Running Again. Haha. Despite my trying to explain it, they don’t totally get the difference between plain running and Up and Running Again.
6. Juggling- Yes, I’ve had to learn the process of juggling this role as a stay at home mom. Anyone with a baby that is trying to keep the baby quiet during a work call, knows the best solution. And sometimes, if my neighbors see me dash outside the door with a phone, they can learn that I’m just trying to escape the noise of the older kids so that I sound somewhat professional. The computer sometimes comes with me as I wait for my daughter at her ballet practice and work calls have been made from the baseball fields and pool deck. Office hours? What are those? Work gets done between my 5 daily school drop offs/pick ups, making dinner, and the never-ending jobs of a mom.
7. Facebook- Yes, the most random posts, photos, or memes gain the highest number of views and likes. It’s hilarious!
8. Stereotypes- Any stereotypes or ideas I had about homeless people have been blown out of the water. People at the rescue missions have been some of the kindest, most gracious and thankful people I’ve met. After speaking in Las Vegas, I had so many participants coming up to me and saying thank you for being there. Some amazing believers that are more open with their faith, flaws, and lives than most anyone I know. It truly is inspirational to me to watch lives transformed.
9. History- As in people’s past. Their story. This kind of ties in to #7 above, but I’ve often been shocked when I hear what someone has had to go through and what past they are struggling to leave behind. Leave at the foot of the cross and move forward. The cheerful attitudes, high fives, and giant smiles come from knowing they have come up for air from the depths of despair. They can truly appreciate what is going on in their life because they know what it could have been. Even beyond those at the rescue missions, I’ve realized everyone has a story and I need to keep learning to show love and grace.
10. Volunteers- I’ve learned there are always ways to use every type of person as a volunteer. Each person has a different gift or passion, but there are so many aspects of URA that can benefit. As the Bible says, we are all parts of a body. The obvious volunteers are those that coach, run with the participants, and work water stations. But we also have had some donate oranges from their home trees, photographers and videographers (we could actually find more of these), drivers, pancake flippers, physical therapists, etc.
11. Connections- This goes along with volunteers, but I’ve learned you never know where connections in life lead you. At the start of my role, I sent donation letters to numerous companies asking for donations and sponsorship. None of those panned out. However, through me announcing my position on Facebook, some casual friends (that I barely knew at the time) enthusiastically told me they had a family business warehousing Clif and Gu products and could get us lots of donations. My running club that I had joined in the past, Brea Runners, has supported URA in multiple ways: joining in FullerTrot, donating used clothing/shoes, and linking me with someone who was one of our coaches. Treat everyone well in life and don’t underestimate people and their roles in your life. Sometimes those relationships come full circle.
12. There is always more to do in my position. More to do for the participants, more nonprofits to reach out to, more publications I could write, more fundraising and marketing, etc. Just as a teacher could always do more for their students and a mom could do more around the house or training their kids, there is always more for me to do in my position. As a mom I will try to prioritize and create lists, but I rarely ever cross everything off my list and I often wish there were more hours in the day. The same could be true of being a program coordinator. There’s a fine line to balancing it all. And that’s still a learning process for me.
So, there you have it! I’ve grown drastically in the last year, but as I grow I realize how much more I would like to grow. I want to be open for what God has in store for me. God’s plan for my life is so interesting and different that what I might predict. But as long as I open myself, I have no doubt He will allow me to be used. I’m looking forward to the future.