A Love Letter to United Way

Woman making heart shape with her fingers on a hill

How do you say goodbye to an organization that not only hired, but trusted you to create a whole new program with the goal of shaping a generation of young learners in your community; when you only were willing to commit to one year? What do you say the people that supported you through the struggles of creating something new when it was so ambiguous that even seasoned educators kept asking you what you were trying to accomplish? How do you walk away from an experience that pushed you to grow as person, gave you unimaginable opportunities to develop as a professional, and provided you with co-workers who have become dear friends? A simple “thank you” feels inadequate, so instead, I leave this: 

 

Dear UWSEI Past and Present,

Felice with Big Bird
I tried to write a blog summing up my time with this organization. I wrote and rewrote lines upon lines and nothing seemed right. No combination of words accurately captured the extent of my love and appreciation for you. I hope I can give you a glimmer of the depth of my feelings. 

 

  • I love you for your patience with me. When I joined UWSEI it was a short three weeks after my mom’s unexpected death. In no way did I show up as my best professional self those first few months, but I received nothing but grace, compassion, and welcoming arms from everyone that was connect to you. 

     

  • I am so grateful for you taking me as I am and not asking me to be anything different. My strengths and experiences have helped me launch our cradle to career work with a “just jump in” and a “we’ll figure it out along the way” attitude. But my impatience for immediate change and results has given me a few self-inflicted bumps and bruises along the way. Being given both the opportunity and the support to succeed (as well as struggle) is a gift.

     

  • Thank you for being unafraid to fail forward. As an organization we’ve taken on so many new projects/priorities in such a short period of time.  Thank you for having the courage to take chances and to believe in the vision and the passion of this team of incredible WOMEN.

     

  • I appreciate your willingness to dig deep and to reflect on our status as a backbone organization in a community full of incredible and thriving non-profits. To consistently question if we are a value add in our community, if we are making a measurable difference in people’s lives, if our work truly aligns with our values, and so much more. This is hard work, and easy to push to the backburner for that day when we have some spare time.  
     

Anybody who truly knows me would describe me as a fighter, not a lover. So, thank you for giving me a role where I had something to fight for that really matters, but has also brought tremendous joy to my life. I’m proud of what I’ve done here.  I’m proud of the women I have worked alongside.  Thank you for it all. 

 

With endless love and gratitude,
Your Forever Supporter/Cheerleader/Volunteer/Champion
Felice B. Otero