Lucky to Know You!

The annual Pennsylvania Society of Volunteer Management Professionals in Healthcare's Conference happened last week. It was one of the best I have attended in my 11 years as a Director of Volunteer Services (DVS). It was held in State College, PA, which is absolutely beautiful this time of year.   The picture above is just outside the conference center entrance.  I took it the morning of the final day.  The conference was jam packed with information, incredibly knowledgeable speakers, and lots of best practices ideas.  I know it is rare for me to blog about my work, especially without a recipe.  However, something happened when I arrived home that really touched me, and I wanted to share it here with all of you.  If I write up anything professional, I have LinkedIn for that. 

As I mentioned, I've been a DVS 11 years.  All eleven have been spent as a member of this professional group.  I spent a few years quietly learning, then I started participating.  First as marketing chair, then professional development...on and on until I spent the past two years as president of our Central Chapter of PSDVS.  My term is up in December, and I am a cross between sad and relieved.  There have been ups and downs, mostly ups.  I will not be leaving the group, but I will no longer be leading it...other than providing whatever help I can to my colleagues in our field.  A field with no guide book, no degree program, no professors. Or, does it?  Sure, we have our certification process.  Yes, our organizations require some sort of degree.  But our professors?  Our professors ARE our colleagues.  90% of what I have learned has come from those who welcomed me into this career.  The other 10% is trial by error.  There have been many amazing woman who have mentored me, helped shape my professional model, and have offered their assistance.  Most of my "favorites" have since retired and left our group.  Some come back from time to time, like two super awesome ladies who volunteered to help at this year's conference, manning the registration, welcoming, and making me smile with their presence.  I thought my conference was complete when, upon leaving, they informed me how proud of me they are.  It could have been complete just then...I mean, two women I look up to telling me they are proud of little old ME?!  But I haven't gotten to the good part yet. 

On Friday, I was asked to facilitate a session.  Not present, just help move along and mediate a "rant and rave session" where one member posses a question, and those with best practices can share ideas and answers.  To me, I didn't do much, I am comfortable in that type of situation.  The hour went quickly.  I was presented with a VISA gift card and a small box.  I was honored to have been asked and included in the conference.  The gift was unexpected and I thanked the giver, then placed the card and box in my bag.  I finished out the conference, then took off for home in hopes of making it there in time to see my little one off the bus.  Happily, I did make it!  Once we were all home, I brought out their presents, Penn State gear for all!  I then remembered the little box my friend had handed me.  I went to my bag, took it out, and opened it.  Inside was a little metal business card case with the words "Thank You" in enamel on the front.  I smiled at the thoughtful gift...and then I opened it and gasped.  These business card cases were the legacy of one of those women I mentioned earlier, a mentor, a source of humor when we needed uplifting, a real great gal.  Lois had suggested these cases as a way to thank those who shared their wisdom with our group at educational sessions.  She has been retired from our field for a number of years now, having suffered medical issues making her unable to continue the work she so loved, and was so good at doing.  Inside my case was a card that said "I'm so lucky to know you! ~Lois"  What a beautiful reminder of a wonderful woman, and a timely reminder to be thankful everyday.  My work may frustrate me, I may feel overwhelmed, stressed, etc...but I will only have to look at my little card case and remember those who came before me and who regard me as someone they are happy to know.  I am happy to know you too Lois.  You, our colleagues, and everyone who helped me as I continue to strive to reach the level she and others have achieved.  Your card may have been placed there a few years ago when you prepared these in advance, but I chose to believe God made sure one made it into my hands when I needed it most.



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