Twenty Five Years Ago…
Today I sit here in awe I have been leading here for exactly 25 years. Today is August 19th, 2021. Twenty-five years ago, I had been through a vast myriad of rapid roller coaster emotions: highs and lows that put your stomach in knots. Only sixty days prior, I found my employer was giving notice and quitting a valuable and beautiful service called SLS. In sixty short days, shortly after my twenty-third birthday, we had taken on a year of activity. We had found office space and furnished it with items from our own homes and thrift shops, wrote a service design and got it approved, found liability and worker’s compensation insurance, and hired about twenty people. It was a whirlwind of activity, excitement, and hard work.
Looking back, it is nothing short of a miracle. My business partner, Joanne, brought her computer from home and we began running our own organization. Two naïve young women who wanted to make a difference—not change the world really. We weren’t that bold or brash. We just make a difference in the twelve clients that were Compass.
My understanding was limited and raw as we embarked on this new adventure. The hard work, pain and loss, stress, and sleepless nights would unfold over time. But so would the magical moments when a client steps out of their comfort zone and experiences life. I would have many wonderful days where a client exclaims, “This is the best day of my life.” What a privilege we have to walk alongside people as they discover their destiny. I hold it so precious when clients and staff find each other and the community.
We too would evolve. Evolve in systems, locations, and as a team. I am prouder of this team every day. We added programs like Independent Living Service. In this program, I watch as people find jobs, drive cars, and get out of debt on a daily basis. We have added our own software product ensuring quality in the field and office. We have taken on crisis: surviving many wildfires, a worldwide pandemic, and personal loss. Through this we have only gotten stronger, we have even added failing agencies to our fold. Some agencies can’t sustain the weight of change, so we step in to help. We take on clients that have lost their agency as part of our mission.
So many moments flash before my heart—sad moments, thrilling moments, and everything in between. All of them are woven into me and I am grateful for every one of them. I look expectantly to the next twenty-five years, knowing that it will continue to be the wrecking ball of emotions it was at the beginning, and I would have it no other way.