NY Region Quarterly and Volunteer Activity
I am happy to note that the morning review of our successful regional and national accounts only ran 20 minutes over schedule this time… (a negligible SPI.) This was followed by an insightful presentation of a strategic client’s ”IT Benefits Realization” solution as well as a follow up of the scintillating “Work Force Management” solution for another major client (ahem…winner of UMT’s 2014 Walberg Award.) Catching the wave of this excitement, we broke out into groups to convene on and present what “Account Management” means to us and how we may add value to our customers as well as our organization. Fevered debate and collaboration were well rewarded by lunch with Peter, our President, at Fraunces Tavern where we pitched ideas on ways to retain talent and develop careers leveraging the company’s mentorship program, etc. I did try my best to sell the idea of opening up a women’s office in Rio de Janeiro during the winter months as part our diversity initiatives but did not detect a spark of inspiration in Peter’s eyes, so I’m calling a moratorium on this proposal for now. Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?
For our regional volunteer activity, we proceeded to the Pajama Program in Midtown, New York. I’d like to take this opportunity to note the irony that for a gang of “road warriors”, some of us, unfortunately, did encounter challenges finding our way to the location which turned out to be the basement unit of a non-descript brownstone. Being the curmudgeon that I am, I declared proudly to my team that I’d be choosing the sleepiest child so that he’d fall asleep after a few sentences. Much to my chagrin, I was not only the LAST volunteer to be matched with a child but the program director had to cajole children to partner up with me. My other colleagues, however, were quite popular and the kids took to them like fish to water, quickly cuddling up to their sides like sweet children do.
The kids asked if I was a mother and I replied…”Yes, to a very cute dog”. That did not turn out to be a strong selling point on my part. Only after three desperate attempts, did the program director finally procure for me what seemed to be a very spunky 5 year old girl, and man, she was spunky, alright…
She started our session by interrupting me five words into the book with, “Hurry up. I have a birthday party at 4!” She then progressed into a maelstrom of running around; ripping book after book from my hands to throw them into a growing pile of 30+ books on the floor; eating and throwing crackers on the floor just before wiping her greasy fingers on my clean hair; and yelling, “Clean up this mess!” I anxiously turned to my colleagues to mouth out the words in silence… “HELLLLLLP ME!”
However, at the end of this experience, the program director informed us that what binds the group of children is that their mothers were in incarceration. Additionally, the driver was not able to find secure parking and that she had to rush the children back home prematurely to avoid a parking ticket. This is the moment when the light bulb went on in my head and the priorities of life became crystal clear. My heart sank. I realized that there was no birthday party at 4 PM waiting for these kids and that they did not return home every day into the loving arms of a mother carrying the aroma of cooking comfort food all afternoon. I think that my 5 year old “terror” may have manufactured parties, stories of her daily activities with her mother, and employed hardened behavior to escape the harsh reality of her life. It is an event like this that humbles a cynic like me to appreciate the good life I had been granted and to remember the words of my hero, Blake Mycoskie, Start Something that Matters.
We were told that regular weekly volunteers are much appreciated at Pajama Program; if you’re interested in individual volunteer opportunity, take a look at http://pajamaprogram.org/help-pajama-program/volunteer or go to http://pajamaprogram.org/help-pajama-program/donate-now and see how you can help with PJs, books, or monetary donation.
I must confess, I did down two strong cocktails very fast at the Library Rooftop bar with the rest of the UMT volunteers that evening. It helped calm my frazzled nerves and get over the shock of the past couple of hours. I’m merely human, after all.