What is your day job? How did you get started in your field?
Director of Recreation and Wellness. I love to coordinate programs, events, and services and I happen to run across this career opportunity 26 years ago that coordinated team sports, church parish retreats and events, and wellness programs.
What kind of education, certifications, training were required to get where you are now?
Although I have a BSW, I didn’t need it for this particular career path. I needed previous experience coordinating programs, services and events for this position and I acquired experience in these areas with my previous employer.
How did you hear about Persevere? What attracted you to the cause and this organization in particular?
I looked online under Re-entry programs and found Persevere. The Justice Involved population has always been a soft spot for me. I have friends and family who’ve had substance abuse challenges and the justice involved population has similar challenges. I currently volunteer in the recovery field, so I wanted to volunteer for an organization like Persevere. Volunteering with Persevere has been very eye-opening pertaining to things I think are small and insignificant and have taken for granted, challenges the re-entry population faces, and discovering that society has not been set up for the support and success of this population. I’m a volunteer Mentor and have been volunteering since 2020.
In your opinion, what is the most important work that this organization does?
Providing opportunities, resources and support for justice involved individuals is super important to this organization, BUT to me, providing training (and employment) of meaningful and competitive work is the most important work Persevere does. I believe they do this better than other organizations in their field.
Do you have an anecdote about this cause/organization that really moved you?
I mentor women in this organization. The word mentor means, “a person who can support, advise, and guide you.” Many times, when I’m “mentoring”, I feel like the tables are turned and I’m being supported and guided BY them. I learn something every time we meet. They humbly guide and support me to remember not to take ANYTHING for granted, even the smallest, simplest things; and to smell the roses as often as I can.
One of my previous mentees passed through the city I live in last week. She reached out and said she was passing through and wanted to meet me face-to-face. We had a WONDERFUL time, seeing each other in person for the first time, sitting around her campsite having dinner and talking about authentic, real-life, meaningful stuff! What a blessing. She is so wise, inquisitive, thoughtful, joyful, peaceful, adventurous, courageous, and insightful. Even that night, I left with a little bit of her wisdom. I arrived home and thought, “what a gift”, and we are even happy to call each other friends! Lastly, she also “MENTORED me” by reminding me not to talk with food in my mouth!!! I got a little excited and didn’t want to stop talking…even while eating!!! See, always being guided and reminded by my mentees!
What other hobbies and interests do you have?
Singing, Latin Dance, walking, hiking, camping, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, meditation, organizing themed events, fostering and volunteering with animals, volleyball, movies, seeing musical bands, live theater and musicals, tennis, volunteering and serving, and so much more.
If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Africa. I would love to go on a guided safari, seeing nature and animals in their habitats, sleeping in a netted tent with a view under the stars, taking a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti, having meals prepared by the guides on an open fire. For me, there is no better connection with our creator than being one with nature. This is heaven on earth.
Do you have any advice you would like to give to the developers as they start into their careers?
Be gentle with yourselves. It takes love, patience, time and lots of support to make internal, lasting change. One day, step, moment at a time. The PRESENT moment is where life is lived. The past and future don’t exist. When I get anxious and find myself in the ” OMG, What If'”…, I wind-in my thoughts, look where my feet are, and bring myself back to the task at hand—the Present. This is the only TRUE place I can operate from, to find peace, contentedness and make real change. THEN quit taking yourselves so seriously and go LAUGH and have some FUN!!!!
Thank you Christi for all you do for our students. Mentorship is a key!