Sometimes I think I’m a bit of an odd duck. I’ll happily admit that. When I meet people, I think about their lives and stories and the take-aways.
Not all the time, but frequently. I had this feeling when I met Lucy and Elizabeth. I wanted to know more about the ladies who helped me get a grasp on my new normal.
The Sheriff and Supergirl costumes you see are so fitting for who they are when showing up for work. Lucy is the Executive Director of Focus + Fragile Kids. Elizabeth is a program coordinator. The Focus + Fragile Kids tagline is Comfort. Hope. Fun.
I see Focus + Fragile Kids as an organization that has breathed a new life into our definition of special needs living. There is a team of 10 people and hundreds of volunteers who support special needs parents in every aspect of their lives from workshops to fun family outings and events in the metro-Atlanta area.
10 people doing a marvelous work. I’ve worked for corporations who couldn’t pull off the feats that Focus + Fragile Kids does.
You see, they affect so many lives by being there to help special needs parents navigate their challenging and unexpected worlds.
Imagine changing lives just by walking in to work. I think that is pretty darn cool!
You serve over 4,500 families in what you do, how does it happen?
Lucy: “I’ve been the Executive Director for 20+ years and I started out as the program director. Now, my job is to provide online parent support-the initial intake when new families come to us. I do more fundraising—meeting with donors and handling social media. I think about the future and how to make us sustainable.”
Elizabeth: “I’m the comfort, hope and fun coordinator! I create and develop events and programs for families. I build relationships through share groups, bereavement groups, and hospital visits. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and I’m always looking around the corner for something new to help where needed.”
Everyone knows that working for a non-profit pays well (big giggle of sarcasm). So really, why do you do this?
Lucy: “There’s nothing better we can do than coming alongside a family to support them. Having that opportunity to give them encouragement is phenomenal.”
Elizabeth: “I love what I do. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping people feel loved, wanted and needed.”
There are always obstacles when you’re trying to do something good. What gets in your way?
Lucy: “Liability—the goal is to run a program where children are happy and safe. When training our volunteers, we prepare them. We have plans for everything—rules. And, it’s hard to have a balanced life in the non-profit world. It can be hard to disassociate from the pain and difficulties. You can’t save the world, but the world will appreciate your effort.”
Elizabeth: “When I started the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) support group I could see myself in those parents. It was hard and scary. But now, I can be there to smile and lift those families up. Being there is no longer a trigger in remembering the loss of my daughter, Kathryn. I can’t make things better for our families. But, I give them memories. People see hope.”
And there you have it—the idea of seeing hope. Isn’t that what we all need at one time or another? This lifeline of hope that is now Focus + Fragile Kids grew from two couples whose children shared a hospital room.
Those four parents became friends and got help from doctors and nurses for support. From there things blossomed.
Because four people had a vision, my daughter attends a camp designed with her needs in mind. When our family attends Focus + Fragile Kids’ events it’s as if they’ve thought through every little detail to make the experience accessible and easy for us to enjoy.
I’ve always marveled at those who decide that their life’s work is about helping others in some unique way.
I don’t expect this post to make you run out to get a new job. This type of giving through work is not my calling and it may not be yours. But…
My intention is always to leave little drops of inspiration that lead to something—that my simple words spark a call to action of some sort.
Comfort. Hope. Fun. Even if it’s not in your work, we can all take a cue from Lucy and Elizabeth to spread a little bit of that to others in our own way. Will you?