“Education.” “Learning.” “Knowledge.” These are words that are often thrown around as we grow up, go to school, and earn our degrees. However, these words are less often used in the realm of work. Work is about the hustle, about making money, and living prosperously, so you can have the look of a “successful” person.
But what if we changed these definitions? What if working was about being a life-long learner? What if continuing education was structured into every job available? How much more knowledgeable and engaged would the human population be?
In my role in the Office of Government and Community Relations, I have the chance to meet elected officials. Here I am pictured with my supervisor Annie Minguez, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, and my coworker Jorge Escobedo.
As a Good Shepherd Volunteer, continued learning and intentional reflection happens in our day-to-day roles. Two specific ways that Good Shepherd Services commits to growth and development are informative trainings and weekly supervision. This year, I have and will continue to attend many in-person trainings, and I will leave with a transcript to show the accomplishments.
I began this year by spending three Thursdays attending day-long advocacy and government trainings held by the Human Services Council—one of Good Shepherd Services partners. I learned about the complexities of both the New York state government and the New York City local government. I learned how to be an effective advocate and cultivate meaningful relationships with our elected officials that could lead to real change.
I listened as others shared their first hand experiences. I networked and met inspiring advocates. These three days have given me an entry point into dialogue about government. They have opened my mind to a whole new field of work. The training has provided me with the knowledge I need to enter into informed discussions about policies, politicians, and strategies for change. Having the knowledge to form thoughtful ideas, and the space to share those thoughts is incredibly empowering, and something that my job offers me every day.
While attending in person trainings is impactful, we also are given the opportunity to learn through intentional time with our supervisors. Each week, I have the chance to sit down one-on-one with my supervisor and discuss how I am doing, what I am thinking about, where I need clarifications, and how she can help me reach my long-term and short-term goals. Good Shepherd terms this time “supervision,” and it is offered to every employee.
Our organization has a super vision, which is: “We envision a New York City where children grow up in thriving neighborhoods, and all individuals and families can build on their strengths to realize their fullest potential.” When I read this and apply it to my own work, I notice how Good Shepherd Services creates work places where employees are cared for so that they can better care for the participants.
One of my favorite aspects of Good Shepherd’s emphasis is their desire to lead the way. Every employee and participant is encouraged to engage. For me, I’ve volunteered to be on work groups, plan lobby days, and offered my input on new ways to collect data for the Learning and Development project that I am assisting with. I feel empowered to offer my ideas, even if they don’t work. Good Shepherd Services tagline is “we see what can be,” which has become a saying that holds meaning for me. When I hear this, I realize that my organization acknowledges that what can be has not fully come to fruition, and that we hold great hope that it will be a reality. This is shown by how we respect and build dignity for our participants and how we lead the way in best practices. My supervisor and coworkers have seen what can be for me this year. They notice my potential and want to help me lean into it. They empower me to notice others’ potential and use my skills to assist them as well. The opportunity to dream big, to learn by trying, and to be equipped to succeed does not come around every day. I am thankful that this year I have the chance to see what can be. Written by Cheryl Rozinski Public Policy and Advocacy Washington Heights Community, 16-17