As I walked into my office this morning, I was overcome with emotion. Today is the final day of my internship at New Leaf before Cathy and Sterling take their well earned and much needed vacation and I head halfway across the country to go back to school. When I walked into my office this morning, I wondered how I would even tie up my loose ends because my desk, chair and a good periphery around them was covered in a rainbow of balloons.
As I pushed some balloons to the floor to make a little room to sit, I thought back to my first day at New Leaf. Intimidated as I was to have my first “real job” in my field, especially with a mind racing of who I could possibly be meeting in group, I skipped up the stairs to find Cathy awaiting my presence, glowing at my entry. From the very first moment I mounted the crest of the stairs, Cathy was excited to have me. I remember feeling the excitement rise, knowing that the uncertainty of what might happen within these walls was well worth the experiences I would gain.
With the title of “administrative intern” I had expected to answer phones and scan documents, but still excited to have the opportunity to even dip a toe into front line work, especially after studying domestic violence policy in a classroom for 5 years. I had no idea the realm of opportunity Cathy, Sterling, the Board of Directors, clients, and other agencies would allow me to delve into. Having someone notice your potential and help you reach it is truly remarkable. Having an entire system to people, all of whom have been privy to the front line for decades, recognize your passion and give you room to run is a true honour.
On that first day, when I walked into my (unexpected) office, there was a vase of red carnations and baby’s breath on my windowsill with a note of welcome from Sterling. Coming from the slew of minimum wage retail jobs I held to pay my tuition, this simple gesture was a grand sign, foretelling of the wonderful people I would have the pleasure of working with and of true recognition of equality. Cathy would be gravely disappointed if I ever referred to her as my “boss”, and I recall Sterling adamantly saying I was not to call him “sir”. Cathy and Sterling always ensured we were equals, regardless of how we got here or how long we’ve been here. That is why New Leaf works. Everyone in circle is equal, everyone has something different to offer, and everyone is valued. I hope to spread this vision of equality throughout the world. I hope to offer the world what New Leaf has offered me.
The feeling of being truly appreciated and respected for simply existing in someone’s world is truly remarkable and cannot be matched. Cathy and Sterling have an immense power to make everyone feel at home and valued. From laughing at corny jokes, to inviting me to participate in a million opportunities, to taking turns bringing coffee for everyone to just sit down and chat. I will be forever thankful for Cathy, Sterling, and the New Leaf program for what it has offered me; intellectually, personally, and spiritually.
So thank you. Thank you to Cathy and Sterling for your friendship and guidance. Thank you to our guys for giving me a window into your worlds and allowing me to represent you in my advocacy and research. Thank you to the United Way of Pictou County, Chris Lewis, and all of my PR classmates for allowing me to tag along on your journey of education. Thank you to the Board of Directors for allowing me to stay longer than originally planned and welcoming me to the Board. Thank you to the Interagency on Family Violence for not only allowing me to be present, but also encouraging my input. Thank you to Tim Houston and Lenore Zann for giving me the opportunity to advocate for our guys. Thank you to EVERYONE who has submitted recipes to our cookbook, especially our community role models who I never expected a response from. Thank you to everyone who is reading this and to everyone who believes in the New Leaf program. It has truly been an honour to spend my summer with you. And believe me, I won’t be far even from 3 provinces away; you have all left me with too much to simply walk away from.
With love, with thanks, with pleasure,
Administrative Summer Student Intern – 2017
New Leaf and community contributors