Whistle While You Work

September 2017 – A reflection by Jim Hayes, Executive Director, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.


I recently found myself whistling while walking the halls of the Center. Apparently I have something in common with Snow White and her seven colleagues–whistling while I work.

The genesis of this joy had nothing to do with a recent viewing of the Disney film, but attendance at a strategic planning meeting. Yes, you read that right, a strategic planning meeting inspired joyful whistling.

Why, you ask?

The meeting involved our entire staff under the watchful eye of our gifted facilitator, Sheri Vohs. Sheri asked the staff to reflect on two simple questions:

What brought you to the Center?

What keeps you at the Center?

We spent most of an hour reflecting on these questions in small and large groups. The desired outcome was to have a better sense of our identity from the perspective of the folks who work here and then to think deeply about our value proposition: what value/service do we bring to the community—particularly what unique value does the Center offer to those we serve?

There were a variety of ways that folks found themselves working here. Much of it has to do with those who established this place and created an environment of support and innovation to provide the opportunity to grow in excellence in our craft.

Why people stay relates to the value proposition. First, it’s all about relationships—with clients and with one another. There is a sense that we meet people where they are and respectfully walk with them as they do the hard work that growth and self-discovery require. Many stay here because of our commitment to holistic focus when it comes to our services. We respect the notion of the whole person: body, mind and spirit. There is a strong commitment to social justice in our common work. We want our high quality services to be accessible to as many people as possible and sacrifices have been made throughout our 45 year history to make that happen. It isn’t always easy, but holding that value is a source of great pride.

Finally, flexibility and freedom have been the life’s blood of our excellence. The Center has been an innovator in many ways throughout our history. It’s a recurring narrative: a clinician learns a new skill or becomes passionate about a new way to work with clients. Our community provides the space for the clinician and clients to grow into a new way of healing and the next thing you know, skills are shared at consultations and more clients benefit from the innovation. We have been blessed with imaginative and passionate staff, which has reaped benefits well beyond our walls.

I can’t wait to see where our planning takes us as we move into the next chapter of our history. I know it will take many of us working together, for we can all find a way to engage the mission, even Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Dopey

James E. Hayes, D. Min., M. Div., Executive Director, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

I wish all of our stakeholders could have been around to hear the uplifting conversation. You might be finding yourself whistling as you walk through your daily routine, grateful that the Center is here to serve the needs of those most in need of understanding, hope and healing.



Read more from Jim’s blog: www.dmpcc.org/Jim