Don’t you hate it when things have to end?
I am not a person that deals with things ending well.
For the last year and a half, I have had a client in Norwalk, CT. I was only supposed to be there three months. Just to audit and assess their fundraising program and develop a strategic long-range fundraising plan.
But, then when I thought the contract was ending, they lost their fundraising person. And, they needed someone.
I remember last spring running around the Umass Dartmouth track in exaltation at this turn of events never knowing what it would mean.
I was there for one short month, and their executive director left. A three-month contract turned into another three months and then six months.
Fall arrived, Christmas came, the New Year passed, and the deep winter set in.
I drove back and forth to Norwalk every week to spend two days each week. I have seen every season come and go.
But, most importantly, I have worked with some really good people. And, seen a lot of women and their children in need go onto more independent and self-sufficient lives and some not so much. I got to know them on a first-name basis. I think little Miss Halo was the best. And, the staff, they warmed up to me and treated me as their own. I became a staff member.
Today when I said to Krista, I only have three more sleeps here in Norwalk, she turned to me and said, “What am I going to do?”
With Krista the Development Assistant working part-time and a very active and engaged Board of Directors, heck at the end of the Fiscal Year, we are at $900,000 raised. Only $24,000 shy of the goal. For an organization 100% dependent on philanthropic giving – we did it! I never set out to do it, but we did it.
Tonight the Board saluted me. They gave me a basket of wine. I don’t drink. My Paul has been sober a dozen years, and unless it is celebratory I don’t care to in solidarity with him.
I never wanted it to end. But, yet, again, I never thought it would turn out this way.
I had a good cry tonight. A very long, lonely cry. Actually, I balled my eyes out. I can’t lie.
I thought back on my first coming to Norwalk.
I will miss this little city. I will miss people I have come to know.
I hate loss. I hate change. But, it is life.
I should have never gotten this attached to one client, to an organization full of women who have been marginalized with nowhere to turn, no home to call their own, and expecting a child, not knowing if they should keep it or not. And, this one little place, a former convent, opens their doors and honors the dignity of their unborn, providing them with a place to call home and a family of their own. To be here and be a part of making mission possible and changing the trajectory of these young girl’s lives has been remarkable.
This is the work that I do. I help those most oppressed in this society, those most in need, those most marginalized. And, I do it with love. It is what I do. This is philanthropy – love of humankind. I often tell my clients that philanthropy changes the giver and the asker, it is an act of conversion. And, tonight, I know this to be true. My heart breaks.
My tears are a testament to how life changing this whole experience has been.
I have not worked many places I really have liked, but this is one. It was the job I had always wanted.
Saying “goodbye” is never easy. Not tonight, not ever.