One of the big changes for me for 2008 will be a change in my position at work – effective January 2, my position changed from just being responsible for communications within the agency to now being responsible for resource development and special projects. With the change in position came a change in title which I am still getting used to as it is a much bigger title, and more impressive and important sounding, in fact, it almost seems pretentious to me but at the end of the day it’s still just a title and I’m still doing most of the things I was doing before the change except now I’m overseeing a lot of our fundraising and assisting with a lot of funding applications and proposals.
The biggest change, however, came in the form of my boss realizing that I need more challenges and in examining my skill set, decided that some programming experience (of which I have none) would help round out my experience and therefore put me in a position to pursue what is perceived to be the next step in my career path, which would be management on the most senior level, similiar to what she does on a day to day basis.
Of course, a lot of the discussions that we had surrounding her realization came with the notion that she needed someone to step in and take on certain ‘special projects’ within the organization, and I’m quickly beginning to learn that special projects can and will mean anything and everything, which, as daunting and overwhelming as it may be, will continue to pad my resume in the times to come. My boss referred to my position as being an incubator of sorts – where I take on brand new programs, or existing programs that need some extra attention, and nurture and cultivate them until they can be reassigned and then I’ll move onto the next project.
The first project that I’ll be taking on is our emergency homeless program that we offer onsite on the weekends and, according to my boss and anyone I know that’s worked in this area, is quite possibly the most difficult social services program to manage on so many levels. Not only are the clients difficult to help but the support that is given by others is limited and conditional – the ‘it’s okay as long as it’s not in my backyard’ mentality that exists either on a conscious or subconscious level. In telling people about my new position, I’ve gotten varying responses from people that speak to this mentality – a lot of people have questioned why I would want to take this on, others have expressed concern for my safety after learning that I will be working within the homeless program every other weekend. Another friend weakly joked that I’d need to be careful because you know, a homeless person might bite me in the arm.
But not everyone thinks like that, and the most surprising reaction I received was from my mother who congratulated me on the new position and every time we talk, inquires as to whether I’ve started working within the homeless program or not. It’s funny in a way, because she was the person I was the most hesitant to tell as I wrongly assumed that she would fret about my safety. When we were talking the other night about the position she told me that I would do really well in the position because, according to her, I had my father’s smarts, her patience but most importantly, I was kind.
Our homeless program was one of the reasons why I wanted to work for this organization way back when (the other reason being that Anna Lee sat on the hiring panel and within minutes of my interview I knew that if I just got the job her and I could totally be BFF), mostly because I’ve always had a very soft spot for homeless people, and that’s mostly because of my cousin Junior, who spent a while living on the streets. I never understood my cousin’s decision to leave home, nor do I understand it now, but I remember how I would see him sometimes and how helpless I would feel. I used to think there was nothing I could do to help but since then, I’ve learned that the littlest things – gestures that we take for granted and that kindness that my mother sees in me – those things means a lot to those that have so little.