What a whirlwind of a week! Whew! We spent the week celebrating our caregivers last week during Direct Support Professionals Week (or Caregivers for the Developmentally Disabled, as we call them)!
We delivered 18 dozen donuts, filled more than 200 bags of popcorn, hauled more than 200 bottles of Powerade and another 200 bottles of Dasani water, decorated more than 200 Blow Pops and Tootsie Pops to look like superheroes, flipped more pancakes than we could count, steamed up our cars with 22 pizzas (Cowabunga, dude!), and took more pictures than our phone storage would hold.
Now, when I say “we” let me tell you who I’m talking about. At Bona Vista, we have a development department. This department is in charge of putting together all special events (large and small), marketing and public relations with radio stations, newspapers, and social media, making creative materials for all of our programs/departments, recruiting new staff, training all staff, giving tours and presentations to anyone and everyone who wants one, maintaining the website and all its many pages, coordinating volunteers/interns, finding/writing grants/donations, scheduling continuing education opportunities for our staff, and so much more. This description is literally just the tip of the iceberg. You know how many people are in the development department at Bona Vista? Five. That’s it. Five.
Let me introduce you to them: Brittnee Smith is the vice president of therapies and public relations (12 years); yours truly is the director of development and training (three years); Troy Bowers is the coordinator of community education (17 years); Shannon Visser is the staff trainer (12 years); and Marcy Kistler is the staff recruiter (one month). It occurred to me the other day that in the more than 150 newspaper articles I have written, I’ve never actually talked about the team for which I get the pleasure to be a part.
To say I would go to battle for any one of these people would be an understatement. They know the best and the absolute worst parts of me. They see me when I’m killing it at my job and when my job is literally killing me – because we all have those days, right? And, that’s when they step in and step up. They are the best of the best, and there’s not a thing personally or professionally that I don’t think I can go to them about. That’s a pretty amazing feeling. Think about it. Do you have that where you work?
So when we have weeks like we had last week where we spend countless hours in preparation soliciting donations, figuring out logistics, communicating the information to our staff, and then executing the plan all we want is for people to feel the love that went in to making it happen. There is so much that goes into something like that, and I don’t know that most people realize.
We love it when people are able to just show up and enjoy the fruits of our labor. That’s why we do these things and put on these events. We want them to be able to come and for a few minutes of their day relax and know how much we value the work they do. It should seem effortless for them.
On the other hand, if I’m being totally honest (which I’ve always told you I would be), it can be exhausting and draining. This year I took several behind-the-scene photos of the preparation. From our intern Jacob popping and bagging popcorn and taping the superhero backdrop together to four adults piled in a truck that’s loaded down with Powerade or taking over tables at Dan’s Variety Bakery at 7 a.m. as we separate dozens of doughnuts to deliver or pony-tailed, sweaty hair under a Batman mask as we put on a pancake breakfast for staff. This is the not-so-glamorous part of the job.
But, it’s all worth it in the end. We may not get the recognition or accolades publicly or have a designated “week” during the year, but when staff appreciate the work you’ve put in for them and express that by attending the events or sending you sweet text messages, you forget how exhausted you are.
As an organization, we are in it together. Whether you’re the person at Bona Vista who cuts the paychecks or pays the bills or the person who provides direct care to those we serve or the person who is consoling a child who misses their parents or the person who fixes holes in the roof or the person who cleans up the day's messes when everyone leaves or the person who feels like they are trying to herd cats in a thunderstorm (this is often me) – we see you! The development department values you and appreciates the work you do. With more than 450 employees it is often difficult to get that message out. There’s no possible way for us to see every single person and personally thank them – so this is it! Thank you!
If you don’t follow us on social media and you didn’t see our photos from the week, I would strongly encourage you to do so! We are on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and we would love to have you follow along with us as we spotlight our staff, show you what we are up to, and partner with businesses and organizations to make this community the best it can be. We truly are better together – as an organization and as a community.