Two years ago this month I was preparing to join the Foundation. Being a creature of habit and routine, starting something new tends to put my emotions into overdrive. The week leading up to my first day I was excited, but also very anxious.
I remember walking to the Community Services Building with much apprehension. Now looking back, to say the time I spent worrying was unfounded is an understatement. I’ve had my share of jobs over the course of my career, but never a first day like the one I had at the Foundation. I walked into my office and there on the white board was a ‘welcome Lisa’ doodle. I snapped a photo and immediately texted my husband. I recall everyone coming in to welcome me and tell me how happy they were to have me be part of the Foundation. It was so sincere and warm. That evening I told my family how special everyone made me feel; as if everyone was celebrating my arrival.
Two years have since passed since that day and I haven’t stopped talking about the Foundation. I’ll tell anyone who asks (and even those who don’t) how much I enjoy and value JCF – the work I do, the people, the community. I’ve replayed every detail of the Aim Chai events with at least a few dozen different friends. I’ve read the community ethical will to my in-laws at a cookout over the summer. I basically go on and on to anyone willing to listen.
Despite having worked in the faith-based nonprofit world in the past, I’ve never felt this level of passion and excitement. In speaking with a colleague with whom I had worked at previous organization, she asked me what makes this experience unique. It was a probing question I’ve been tossing around for a while. What is so different? It took me time, but I’ve finally put my finger on it. It all came back to that celebratory feeling from my first day.
That’s it…celebration. It’s a big part of my work. As the marketing and communications manager I get the pleasure of sharing the message of our community’s successes. Successes and accomplishments we celebrate together. In one way or another, each day at the Foundation is a cause for celebration - we celebrate community, we celebrate donors and their intentions, we celebrate family philanthropy, we celebrate the impact we’re having in the world. The list goes on.
In life there will always be difficulties and situations to challenge our resolve. I believe that’s why it’s important to remember that there is always something worth celebrating. When we pause to celebrate our accomplishments, we remain focused on the positive. Through celebration we raise one another up. We lay the groundwork for hope and optimism. We keep each other going and together we move forward.
Whether big or small, being a part of these daily celebrations is, to me, both an honor and a joy.
Lisa Farren is the Marketing and Communications Manager at the Jewish Community Foundation.