It feels like I'm slipping into the routine at Southside rather easily. I guess that should come as no big surprise since I worked there for 9 years before I left for the Y. While I feel "at home" at Southside, I am still working through the process of saying good-bye to the Y.
This past Friday night I met up with a bunch of my former Y buddies. I guess in a sense it was a "good-bye party". There are now more than a few of us that have left the Y more than a little unhappy with how things are being run. We've started calling ourselves the "Y Misfits R Us". Friday night's gathering included the growing number of "misfits", as well as current Y folks who are holding on.
It was a good time. It was good to laugh (and shed a few tears) with these folks who are former co-workers. I hope they remain friends. By far the hardest part about my departure from the Y was leaving behind some good folks. What I enjoyed the most about my job at the Y was working with my staff and the relationships I built with them. I was the 7th membership coordinator in as many years. The membership staff had seen a number of changes and was in the midst of another organizational change when I came on board. I'd like to think we navigated that change together. And as we navigated that change and the changes that have come since, we grew closer as a group.
Although I knew it was what I needed to do, it was hard for me to leave my Y team. I still want to be there working beside them, leading them through the changes that are happening now. There is much about my old job that I don't miss. But I do miss the joking amongst the membership team and the sense of family that was there. They are a feisty, passionate group of people.
You'll hear me say it here more than once I'm sure--I think there are two big reasons why people work for nonprofits (god knows, it's not about the money!)--First, people work at nonprofits because they are passionate about the mission statement of the organization. It's important to them that their work not only be valued, but also be valuable to society. I'm not saying that people who work in the corporate world don't care about these things. I'm just saying that people who get hooked into working in the nonprofit world are willing to sacrifice personal gain to support the mission of whatever organization they are working for. My membership staff at the Y are those types of folks--they are living the mission statement. And they are willing to challenge the management when they feel they are not living the mission statement. That has caught them some heat. But I have no doubt they will continue to challenge. GO TEAM!
Second, people work at nonprofits because of the relationships they have with fellow staff and their clientele. Nonprofit folks are people folks. Relationships, at work and at home, are important to them. In a sense, they get "fed" (or paid) by the relationships they build at work. A sense of community, of family even, exists at work.
I have worked at several nonprofits in my adult life. I have been fortunate to work at two nonprofits that have fostered this sense of community.
I just left one of them. I have returned to the other.