As I head towards retirement. I’m looking forward to having more time to spend with family, friends, and other interests, but I know I’ll also miss FSCC greatly. It’s been a bittersweet joy to look back at my time with the agency.
I started here as a graduate student in 2004. I know firsthand why so many of our counselors are former interns – this agency gets under your skin. From the first staff meeting I knew I was welcomed, supported, appreciated, and in the company of talented professionals who care about our work and would help me to become the best clinical social worker I could be.
Hiring another counselor wasn’t in the agency budget when I graduated, but counselor Sharon Owens agreed to continue to provide one hour of clinical supervision each week if I provided one hour of counseling services. From there my role expanded as opportunities came up, a few hours of fee for service work, then part time counseling, then full time.
Therapists talk about providing a safe holding place in their counseling rooms where clients can open up, share their fears and traumas, find their strengths, and heal. Counselors also find a safe holding place at FSCC, where they can learn, express their worries, hone their skills, and grow as therapists.
A safe place doesn’t just happen. Our former Executive Director Burroughs Mack and Counseling Director Kurt Walser created a supportive environment, and I suspect they had learned from previous leaders. When Kurt retired after a long career, I stepped into his position because I wanted to help us update our systems (technology! outcome measures! telehealth!) without losing the people-centered, mission-driven ethos that makes this agency special.
Some of you know that in 2016 I was present at a devastating terrorist attack in Nice, France. When I returned to work the following week, people asked why I hadn’t taken some time off. But I knew the most healing thing I could do after witnessing violence and inhumanity was to be with good people who spend their time caring for and lifting up others.
So I thank my dedicated colleagues for the intelligence, skills and compassion you use in caring for others every day. Thanks also to our Board members for understanding our mission and giving your time and talent to support it. Thank you to the funders and donors who make it possible for us to do the work, and to the wonderful partners who collaborate with us in making Chester County a better community.
Thank you, Kevin Hayes, for accepting the Counseling Program directorship. It’s easier to leave knowing the leadership will be in your capable hands. Family Service got under your skin too.
And especially, thank you to the clients who trusted me with their unique stories of perseverance, resilience and growth. You amaze me, inspire me, and I am privileged to know you.
All my best,