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Humble Beginnings

By Cassandra Sales

Last week, for the first time in quite a while, we were able to get together in a very small group and decorate the office. Being stationed in Siskiyou , that meant we got to decorate our new Yreka Office for Christmas for the first time. I would love to tell you it looks like the scene of a Hallmark movie, but the reality is we had a bunch of hodgepodge decorations left over from other offices and events, nothing really matched, lights didn’t fully work, and the star on top of the tree is well… a random red bell we made work. The funny thing about decorating for Christmas is though, its not about the decorations at all. It is about who you are with and what you are celebrating this year.

Mike Doan came up from Redding that day to help us decorate and was tasked with putting together our tree. As he went to plug it in to marvel at the masterpiece in front of us, half the lights didn’t work. Honestly, we all couldn’t help but laugh. Our half lit tree showed us just what a little light could do. 2020 has been a series of unfortunate events surrounded in darkness. MLK once said “darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate, only love can do that.” In the midst of a pandemic, civil unrest, and a heated election, Compass let its little light shine. We learned from each other about what honor meant for those with different skin colors, Sadie created a holiday, May Day, just to celebrate that nothing will ever take Community away from us, and we started a tradition of seeing our leaders front and center debriefing us all each month in Townhalls because we are all respected members of this community who deserve questions answered. We let our light shine and kept our love on.

As Cindy Cobb, our newest CF in Siskiyou and I were untangling what seemed like miles of garland we were celebrating our growth. Despite being faced with endless hurdles in 2020, Siskiyou SLS still grew so much we needed a 3rd Case Facilitator. A milestone that in 2014 we never thought we would achieve. In just 6 short years we went from splitting an ILSM/CF hybrid position into two separate positions to having three CFs, 2 ILSMs, a Supervisor in Siskiyou, and a partridge in a pear tree. Alright, I may have added that last part, but you get the idea.

Then came our incredible masterpiece of a wreath that hangs from our front door. Cody Pimentel, ILSM extraordinaire, took a plain small wreath, embellished it with some ribbon, decorations and a bow and you wouldn’t even know that it was a DIY wreath. The wreath is a perfect representation of 2020 for us all. We were handed broken pieces and because of the community we have built, we saw worth, purpose, and potential in all those broken pieces. Where others saw excuses or hurdles that could not be overcome, we saw the foundation for something beautiful. Throughout 2020, we have experienced extreme challenges, behaviors, moves, opening new offices, and so much more. But, through it all, we took the individual pieces of each season and made something beautiful.

Sara Cowan, another new CF to Siskiyou, was busy jumping in and out of annual meetings, handling scheduling needs, and following up and ensuring clients got their Thanksgiving dinners. One thing we all learned this year was that we will, at times, be pulled in many different directions. However, through it all, it is important to show up, to be seen, to appreciate those around you and to lend our unique superpowers to each other, and that’s exactly what Sara did.

Every single person that came to the office that day, whether a staff or client picking up a Thanksgiving meal, or just those of us in the office who were here, there and everywhere, I took them on the same tour of my wonderful contribution to the decorating. It wasn’t the tree that half shines in our bull pen, or the magical garland or wreath around our front door, I took them around the corner to the front of our building where a single, ginormous, couldn’t find anywhere else to put it, ornament hangs from our Compass sign. Trust me, if you ask me about my single ornament, I will beam with pride and tell you all about it. Not because I was proud I finally found something to do with it, but instead what it represents. We all have a place. We all have a seat on the bus. We all are different and there are no two of us the same, and that’s what makes our community so beautiful. So whether it’s our boldness, our vibrance, our location or even the size of our presence, we all have a place here. From the new hire who has minimal experience, but a huge heart of service, to the experienced life coach who celebrates their 6th Christmas with us, to Life Guide who celebrates 20 years here on December 14 – I’m looking at you Tinna King, to the Regional Manager who misses a lot of dinners with their family to make sure we are all supported, to the leader in Florida who makes sure we keep the promises we make in Quality Assurance, to the Marketing team who is going to make this article look way better than the one I turned into them, we all have a place here. We all bring a uniqueness that only we have, and no one can ever recreate. You matter to us and we are so thrilled you are here.

If you are ever in Siskiyou this holiday season, and want to marvel at our work, come drive by. There will be a single red ornament waiting here to greet you and remind you of our humble beginnings and incredible flourishment along the way.


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