The beauty is in the unknown…
I have been hopping all over the state wrapping up the Mother’s Day events and gearing up for this year’s Father’s Day events, which for us start this coming weekend at California Men’s Colony (CMC) in San Luis Obispo. Through all of the hustle and bustle, I have had my own time to reflect on everything that has happened thus far this year.
There seems to be one apparent theme that carries through and that is “The beauty is in the unknown.” The interesting thing about my job is I work night and day to try to make this once a year visit happen for many people who I will never get a chance to have an interaction with. Unlike our wonderful volunteers who are out there in the field meeting all the family members and getting to know their stories, I am most times either in my office or on the road dealing with the event day issues on a larger scale.
Although I do really enjoy meeting the children and families on the event day, I have come to learn that even if I met every single person who was part of this program and heard their stories, there would still be so much more to each of their stories. It is impossible to realize how much healing is actually occurring beyond this one day of visiting.
One week ago in Northern California, our bus coordinators gathered to reflect on their experiences. Our Regional Coordinator Claire told a story about a family from Modesto who wanted to go and see their mom in Chowchilla. When Claire’s volunteer arrived at the home, in addition to finding the three young children and their father and an elderly grandmother, he observed a barren apartment with a queen size blow up bed in the middle of the room that everyone shared. There was no other furniture to be found. No toys for the children to play with. No place for the family to gather for meals or to even sit down for that matter. Upon leaving, the volunteer with Claire’s help were able to get this very family a gift certificate from Target so that they could get some new things to furnish their place. Unfortunately, this family was not able to make our trip this year, but they did send our office a very heartfelt letter and some pictures of them enjoying their new stuff.
One of the bus coordinators talked about a mother who had not seen her daughter in many, many years. She was bringing her daughter’s child to visit her for the Get On The Bus day. Before she went through security she decided that she didn’t think she could face her daughter after all these years. With a little support of our bus coordinator, she was able to get enough strength for her granddaugther to walk into the visiting room. Afterwards she said that words could not express how amazingly healing this visit was for her. In addition to her daughter having a great Mother’s Day, for the first time in a long time, she did too.
As some of you know from this week, I have announced that I will be leaving my position as Program Director of Get On The Bus in August to move back to the East Coast to reunite with my own family. Not only have I enjoyed the past 2 years as being the Program Director of this amazing organization, but I have enjoyed almost 6 years of being involved and connected with both this program and my awesome boss Sr. Suzanne Jabro. When I met Suzanne 6 years ago, she said, “Come and help with Get On The Bus, it’s so easy.”
Although “easy” may have not been the choice of adjective I would have used to describe Get On The Bus, the words supportive, enriching and truly amazing are some others that come to my mind. I have grown up professionally here at this organization and I plan to remain supportive of the program in whatever capacity I’m able. Thanks for everything you’ve taught me, and the support you’ve given both me and the program. You are some of the most committed people I know and I will miss each and every one of you deeply. Although I do not know exactly what I will be doing, I have learned from this organization that “the beauty is in the unknown” and I am sure that this experience in my life will allow me to land safely as I relocate to the NYC metro area.