Monday, March 14, 2011

LA Fellows Cohort 2 Graduation - Wendy Stackhouse's Speech

Thank you to the Job Training staff, the Faculty and Administration of LA Valley College, Program Partners, our guests and representatives from our nonprofits for being here with us today.

I feel like I’ve been writing this speech for seven weeks. And I guess I have. On Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on the LA Fellows Blog and my own and in my journal, I have tried throughout to think about what has really been going on and what the impact of the LA Fellows program has been on far. I say “so far” because the journey isn’t finished yet. And even when we all have fabulous new jobs, the journey will continue.

We all came into the LA Fellows missing something. What, you ask? A job, I would have said. That’s what’s missing in my life. But what were we really missing? A lot...and then again not so much.

So I will say thank you to our instructors both for showing us what we brought with us and for what they gave us that we needed.

We came here with our spirits. Thank you to Jim Marteney for showing us that the spirits we have and bring to our work are important and valuable and then how to tap into those spirits and put them to good use.

We came here with our brains and our bodies. Thank you to Larry Braman, a special reconnection for me from long ago and far away, for showing us the skills and energy we have and bring to our work are amazing resources for ourselves and our employers. And for showing us that any way we connect with one another and the world is significant.

We came here with dreams. Thank you to Dr. Virginia Green who taught us to only accept the best from ourselves, from our team, from our lives, from our time. Some of us didn’t know what our dreams were, some of us even found that our dreams were different from what we thought. Wherever we are in our journey today, all of us have gained clarity and if we don’t yet know what we want, we do know what we need.

We came here with an idea of what job search was. Thank you to Tony Jaramillo for giving us concrete skills to deal with what we have to go through to reach our goals.

We came here thinking we knew about group dynamics and communications. Thank you to Michael Tompkins for reminding us that listening can always be improved and that openness to others is a huge asset in any situation. And thank you for being there for us after the program ends.

We came here feeling powerless. Great thanks to Roberto Guitierrez for giving us a safe place to find the power within us and proclaim it to the world.

And for the things we needed:

Thank you Doug Card for getting us up to speed on the computers with such good nature, humor and patience.

Thank you to Andrea Mitchel, who made “nonprofit” into a reality for us, a place where we can learn and grow and thrive. And for giving us a whole new skillset that will serve us well as we move on.

And to Lynnette Ward, thank you for giving us so many things we really did not have at all through her immense knowledge and generosity: what to do, what to use, what to bring, what to say, what to ask, and what to do when we land.

And Allison, our bright shiny penny, our touchstone, our confidante, our mentor. I cannot imagine anyone doing this better than you do, working harder, being kinder.

But, sorry everyone, my biggest thank you has to be to my colleagues. Thank you for connecting with one another, for supporting one another, for becoming a family, for crisis counseling and for laughter. I don’t think any of us knew we were missing each other, but we were and now we’re not. And thank goodness, we never will be.

I will finish with an Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

Until we meet again.

Thank you.