I shouldn't feel it.
I shouldn't say it.
I certainly shouldn't write it.
But I'm going to.
Yesterday at Dick Sobsey's presentation about how to create safe places for people with disabilities to live and work, Vita's Personal Development Committee made it's public debut. Several weeks ago we met and I asked them to prepare to present at the Sobsey conference and they did as I knew they would, they greeted the challenge with enthusiasm and determination. An amazing group of staff.
The main reason I am working at Vita is to be part of a process and to observe a process of an agency going through changes to actively become a Safe Haven for those in care. I spent two months reading the literature and then coming up with what is simply called, Vita's Process for Change. From there it's been slightly over a year that we've made change after change after change in the agency. It's like we have shone a light on every aspect of our service and asked simply, can we make this safer.
One of the things we did was create a team of dedicated staff that work together, but with focus on three areas. Relationship Training, Abuse Prevention Training and Self Advocacy. We interviewed, then hired, then trained staff. Some (1) came from management but the rest comes from Vita's front line. Then they set about doing the work. It's been amazing to watch them learn and grow. As individuals. As a group. As a team.
As they prepared to present yesterday, I received from each team their speeches and questions about what they needed to include. I want to be clear here. Their work required little editting. Very minor suggestions about wording changes or things to add, but that's it. They could have done it without me and without my little contributions. But I was glad to be part of their process as they readied themselves for their first public presenation as a team.
It was arranged for them to go on after lunch. Each was nervous. Each wanted to do well, as much for Vita, the team, the people we serve as for themselves. You could see the pride that each person had in the work that they did. So they presented and each did brilliantly. They were alive. They were funny. They were informative.
And I felt a weird feeling.
One I shouldn't mention.
I felt a kind of paternal pride in their accomplishment. This is weird because we're all adults albeit that I'm way more adult than they are and I recognize that this was their accomplishment, not mine. But I felt it anyways.
For years I have worked independently as a consultant in a freelance capacity. In the last year, though, the nature of the work has had me working in teams and with others in a very different way. While I provide supervision and direction to the Personal Development Committee and while I am involved in the selection of team members, I didn't expect to have this deep sense of accomplishment and, paternal pride, that I did yesterday.
We humans are weird, and I'm amongst that group.
While driving to the airport to get Dick to his flight, he mentioned the presentation by the group. He said, "It heartening to see a group of young people who are committed and who 'get it' and who want to make a difference."
Tears welled up in my eyes and I looked out the window and said.
"You're right, Dick, it is."