It was mid July in 1995 when I felt it the first time. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew one thing for certain: I needed to listen. I had just graduated from Kirkwood Community College and was looking for direction. I was walking to my car after the graduation ceremony and bumped into a Marine Corps recruiter. Two hours later I signed a four-year contract and was on the phone with my mom. I couldn’t explain it, I told her. All I could say was that I just knew this what I needed.
After finishing my term in the Marines, I found myself at the University of Northern Iowa studying criminology. Shortly after graduation, I felt it again. I couldn’t explain the feeling I had to any of my friends or family, but I just knew that I needed to move to Los Angeles to join the Los Angeles Police Department. I never did join the LAPD, but I found my wife and my real career out there.
I’m now married and have a couple of children, have a mortgage, and a job working for an organization that I love and have given every ounce of my energy to for the past 8 years. This is where I should be. Everything makes sense, but for one big exception. I feel it again. And it’s stronger than ever felt before.
I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’ve been and what I’ve learned along the way. I’ve been fortunate to work with incredible organizations that envision a community free of violence, work with at risk adolescents, feed the homeless, and protect our country, to name just a few. Although every one of those missions were very unique, they were also very much the same. They all wanted to create a stronger community. They realized their greatest success through collaboration and partnerships.
Nearly three years ago I thought I was just helping create something that would make my current job easier. We set out to create a directory for our community. We wanted to make sure that if anyone ever needed any type of service, they could find what they were looking for in one place. That was the birth of Resources Unite. Late nights and weekends were spent sharing stories about clients that needed services, services that struggled to deliver, and a belief that if everything was somehow united or connected, we would all succeed. We’re weren’t bold enough to write it down at the time, but what we were setting out to do was to change the way we change the world. And when I say “we,” I mean all of us. The entire community.
Now, that boldness has arrived. The boldness has come on like a freight train. Community resources are meeting monthly, sharing information and ideas. Both traditional and non tradition partnership have been forged. Our website has expanded well beyond a resource directory. In November, of this year, the RU Magazine debuts. A partnership with TH Media has resulted in a magazine that I believe will be the most effective tool in connecting our community. And last, but certainly not least, as 2013 comes to a close, a RU community connection center will be created inside of the Schmid Innovation Center in the Millwork District. This is the place where people will learn about all volunteer opportunities in our community. Most importantly though, this is the place that you will go to be inspired. People will bring their laptops down there to work on a project alone or as a group. They will sip on coffee and start hatching plans to change the world…together.
And so, this brings me to the third time in my life in which I have felt something in my soul that I cannot ignore. I have resigned from Riverview Center and will be working with the Resources Unite team full-time. You will find no one more committed to the mission of Riverview Center. I believe it goes without saying that I will always support this incredible organization. Although this is a bittersweet transition, I believe in my heart that the work I will support with Resources Unite will in fact strengthen the efforts of Riverview Center and many other organizations in our community.
My mentor and good friend asked me recently who I am and what I hold most important in my life. He talked about the importance of finding balance and listening to that inner voice. I sat out on my deck later that night doing some real soul-searching. ”Who am I? ” What kind of question was that? It turned out it was the exact question I needed to hear. I remembered that who I am is a person that finds great joy and satisfaction in working with others. I love getting to know people; hearing their stories and finding connections along the way. It’s why I do the countless Tough Mudders, why I’m deeply committed to my FXB family, and why I invite anyone that will join me for a protein shake or coffee any chance I get. (I don’t even drink coffee!)
I want the connection.