Dear Friends of Full Access:
July 1, 2015 launches a new future for Full Access serving Lane County and Full Access High Desert, the 14th Support Service Brokerage, now serving people in Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and Lake Counties. This new future was directed to go forward by our Board of Directors in January 2015, with support from the Oregon Department of Human Services. This is an exciting time for reinvention for both agencies, who have a rich common past of nearly 14 years. We now have two new futures as separate agencies. Heather Hopkins-Slechta is the Executive Director for Full Access High Desert and Todd Teixeira is the Executive Director for Full Access. Both agencies still have the same highly skilled staff you have come to appreciate through the years!
As I am leaving, I have deep appreciation for the work we have accomplished together in the past, and I am confident the continued realization of the mission of both agencies will carry a new and more impactful future as each grows under new leadership. In leaving I have heard many well wishes, encouragement and recognition. One card I received I am particularly touched by and have reflected on these words for several weeks now. The content is below word for word, and the lessons brought to me are significant. This is written by an employee who captured much of the essence of our mission.
“The very last question you asked me before I was hired at Full Access back in 2005 was ‘Can you work for someone like me?’ I remember being taken aback and unsure how to answer. You said ‘let me tell you what that means’ and went on to describe how you were often out of the office, in Salem or Bend, so you wouldn’t be available to provide direct supervision all the time. But over the last 10 years I’ve realized that you left out some things.
You failed to mention the high standards you would set, and the example by which you would lead. You said nothing about the number of times you would ask me to step out of my comfort zone, or how much support and encouragement you would provide. You forgot to say that I would never have to worry, because you would always have my back. You didn’t tell me how much I would learn and grown under your skillful leadership.
Thank you for believing in me, challenging me, supporting me in my failures and acknowledging my successes. I will miss your calm approach and reassuring presence. You have been an amazing boss.
And yes, Margaret, I can work for someone like you.”
This person spoke of high standards, leading by example, getting out of our comfort zone, the importance of support and encouragement, having each other’s back, growth, being believed in and challenged, getting supported in failures and acknowledged for success, and being present with one another. This too has been my experience.
Given who the people we support are, we should have high standards and establish all the qualities noted by this employee. When she wrote, she was writing to me and about me, but I also heard a deeper message: This is who we all are! From our clients, staff, board of directors, families, community partners, donors, volunteers, state and county staff, and the stellar group of support services brokerage directors, these qualities lead us from an era of institutionalizing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to a full on charge for community living and supports. The work we do is privileged work. That is not something I have ever taken for granted.
There are countless moments of conversations I have had with our clients about both our failures and successes in customer service. I have been reminded through the years, that our work has a center and the center is each person we support. How we treat the one, is how we treat the many. This value is particularly important to hold in front of our minds as we go through enormous changes, as we have in recent years.
As I leave, I am confident in the future of our communities because of the values deeply expressed in our hearts and actions these past years. They are the best predictor that all will be well.
Fare thee well, my friends!
Margaret Theisen, CEO