It’s been a great year
December 2017 – A reflection by Jim Hayes, Executive Director, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.
It’s been a great year.
December 5, 2016 I began my tenure at the executive director of the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center (DMPCC). I had the privilege of two weeks of sitting at the feet of Ellery Duke who served this institution for forty years. He didn’t quite impart all his wisdom in that time, but had a plane ticket, so had to depart for warmer climes on December 23, 2016. The way I see it, my tenure really began once everyone returned from holiday break on January 3, 2017.
It’s been a great year.
How do I capture all that is good about this place? It’s been a whirlwind for me personally and professionally, so putting my thoughts into a tidy box of memories hardly seems fair. One construct that works for me is all that we learned undergoing a strategic planning process ably led by our consultant Sheri Vohs, thanks to a generous grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. During the process, we explored the “Value Proposition” of our work here at the Center. Let me reflect a bit on how I have witnessed one of those values lived out in the day to day lives of the many people connected to our organization.
People. It is clear to me on a daily basis that this place is special because of the people involved in our organization. It starts with our clients. They are courageous. They accept the responsibility of vulnerability in order to face whatever it takes to work on hope and healing in their lives. There are often stigmas to our work. These folks testify to the brokenness that is a part of each of us and that it’s ok to own the limitations and contingency of our lives and that by doing so in the context of a safe environment, we can all live more fully. Wow, that was a long sentence, read it again! One comment that came up during the planning process is that we meet people where they are and not as a problem that needs to be fixed–as a person who just needs someone to walk with them. We respect the people who come through our door and the values they bring with them. We love them rather than manage their issues. That’s a high bar and an important value added to our community.
People in our organization are talented. Clinicians, spiritual directors and all our staff live out our mission to bring understanding hope and healing to others each day. The quality of our staff and the diversity of our services make this place hum with activity. There is a tremendous amount of intellectual curiosity around this place. Folks are always trying to figure out how to get better. Our value of trying to serve as many people as possible regardless of ability to pay requires great sacrifice of time and resources. I am inspired by the commitment of my colleagues and have learned much from them in my first year. I thank them for grace and patience as we all grow as leaders in this field.
The value of people in our organization stretches well beyond the confines of this building. There are many stakeholders that contribute to our success: volunteers, friends, donors, foundations, politicians and anyone who recommends to a friend or family member that we can help. I have enjoyed meeting many of you and look forward to meeting many more. Thank you!
All of you contribute to other values that we had a hard time naming. Words like peaceful, holistic, and spirit came up. When pushed to the limit of words, I often resort to stories. As I head out of this place for a meeting or engagement in the community, I often hold the door for someone entering the Center and say hello. I respect their privacy and don’t make much small talk. There is still a connection, at least for me. I know that regardless of why they are here, for counseling, spiritual direction, scheduling a future appointment, addressing a question about a bill, a class, a prescription re-fill, or any other number of reasons, I know they will encounter someone who cares. I like to think they will leave this place with a stronger sense of peace; that whatever strategy for healing is necessary, their whole story (body, mind and spirit) will be taken into account; that their spirit will be lifted up as a result of their time with us.
Knowing that I work in a place that does that kind of work brings me great joy, along with a healthy dose of humility and privilege. Thank you, all of you, for all you do to make it possible to carry on this crucial mission.
It’s been a great year.
I can’t wait for an even better 2018.
More blog posts from Jim Hayes here: www.dmpcc.org/Jim
If you are still making end of year philanthropy decisions, please consider helping children, teens and adults who need access to mental health counseling and education.