Retreat Yourself West introduction party

June 15, 2010

I am very lucky to have been employed with Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) since the beginning of 2007. I began as the Program Director and have since moved into the role of Managing Director. When Geoff came to me in the fall of 2008 to ask me if I would be interested in the newly created position of MD (I have finally made my parents proud to have a MD in the family!), I was somewhat hesitant. I was honored to have been offered the position and the challenge of it intrigued me. However I was already in the best job of my life as Program Director. But I took the opportunity that was presented to me and I haven’t regretted it yet!

Well, that is until Retreat Yourself 2010 rolled around. In the three and a half years since I have been working with this amazing organization I have not missed a program event. I have met every survivor that has attended a Retreat or Conference with YACC since 2007. While I knew taking this new position would mean eventually handing all program elements over to our new, very lovely, talented and extremely capable Program Director (Karine Chalifour), it wasn’t until I was faced with the actuality of this situation did I begin to miss my old world.

Now don’t get me wrong; I still love what I do, but not meeting the new members of our growing family had more of an impact on me than I thought it would. The sharing, growing, and loving that happens at a Retreat is such a special bonding experience that I felt a hole when Karine returned. It was the first time I didn’t know everyone; their names, their faces, their hearts. As soon as Karine walked in the office on her first day back I cornered her and said, “Tell me EVERYTHING!”

During that discussion, I began to feel more connected with the group. While Karine didn’t share anything personal (confidentiality even exists among YACC staff) she shared personalities. I began to feel like I knew all of the retreaters, on a less intense level, of course, but it helped.

Then I had the idea that all YACC staffers should feel this connection. While we have known this for a long time, it is not feasible for all staff members to attend every support event. However we all need to feel the connection to the survivors. They are the reason we do what we do every day. So last Monday morning we had our first “Meet the faces of RYWest” meeting–a catchier name is obviously needed, but you get the picture. So for the first time Karine took all of us through some pictures of the event. She told us each participants name and a little about their personality. It was a great way for all of us here at YACC to be introduced to the new members of our family. It was a way for us to feel connected to this amazing group of individuals.

To all of our new family members from the 2010 Retreat Yourself West program: WELCOME! There is a whole community here for you to connect with. We all feel very privileged that you are now a part of this growing community of survivors and supporters. And I am apologizing in advance of the Survivor Conference in November as I am sure when I meet some of you I will likely grab you and give you a big hug as I already feel I know you (believe me, this already happened at last year’s RYW. Sorry again, Karin!) A little creepy? Probably, but that’s how we roll! Again, welcome to the family!

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