Passing the Torch: My Final Year of Service

By LIFT on June 16, 2016

Categories: First Person Perspective, Our Work, Real Stories

The weeks prior to our most recent LIFT volunteer training bootcamp were filled with answering e-mails, setting up interviews, reviewing resumes and applications, making phone calls and countless meetings with our soon-t0-be volunteers. I had the privilege of hearing the stories of everyday people, who even in the face of adversity, triumphed through their shaky ground moments, connected to LIFT’s mission and wanted to volunteer. What some people don’t know, is that this particular training bootcamp was bitter sweet for me. This was my last with LIFT and I wanted to go out with a bang!

One by one, volunteers began to fill the room, perfect strangers meeting for the first time. We had volunteers from California State University, Los Angeles, Carleton College, UCLA, George Washington University, Bucknell University, University of Southern California undergrad and masters in social work students and Harvard (through the Mindich Program).

I couldn’t wait for my team to meet these extraordinarily talented people who dedicated their time to service this summer. Of all the places they could have been, they chose to serve our LIFT parents and to dedicate themselves to helping families break the cycle of poverty.

As I stepped up to deliver my welcome speech to our newest batch of volunteers, I felt at home. LIFT has been my home since the day I walked into my first training. Little did I know my life was going to change that day. Little did my team know that on that day, LIFT saved me.

This training was no different. It was filled with reflection, love, team work, connection and the common belief in human potential. Each volunteer left believing in the importance of the work we do and why we need to invest in parents. As I watched my team present, I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for their work and commitment. Michelle Rhone-Collins, LIFT-Los Angeles’ executive director, launched the training session by delivering a powerful presentation that set the stage for the next two days. The rest of my colleagues did an outstanding job working behind the scenes to ensure that everything ran smoothly.

As the training came to a close, we sat in a huge circle and each person went around answering the questions, “why are you here?” and “what do you look forward to this summer?” This is a moment that I’ll never forget. For the first time since our training began, volunteers and staff weren’t afraid to share and be vulnerable. Some shared tough stories, shed tears, felt joy, appreciation and many thanks were given. It clicked so perfectly that each person in the room was on the exact same wave length.

This week, our 11th cohort of advocates completed training and are now seeing members. I am proud to report that we are at full capacity.

Today, I received a text from a staff member stating, “Love these advocates, they’re so eager to see a member and keep coming up to the front to ask if their members are here.”

I truly believe that I am leaving LIFT with a legacy that I hope will continue to thrive. I owe it to my Los Angeles team for always supporting me through the stressful times and sharing in the happiest of moments. I feel accomplished, this experience is rewarding and I will carry it wherever my ship lands.  I look forward to the next group of advocates and fellows leaving when their time is up with the same feeling.