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Lifespan – Abilities Illuminated

You’re Not An Employee

To:  LIFESPAN Employees (aka Ambassadors) From: Ken D. Fuquay, CEO Re: more than a Word, It’s an Attitude Early last year, I traveled to Baltimore for a conference and booked a room in a no-name out-of-the-way hotel.  That little hotel exceeded my expectations; especially their employees.  I was so enamored with their attentiveness that I asked one of the employees why it was that every employee seemed to love their job so much.  She kindly corrected me, “We’re not employees anymore.  We are all ambassadors.” I asked her to explain the difference. “Employees have a job,” she said.  “Ambassadors carry out the mission of this company.” LIFESPAN has always been mission-driven to empower the individuals we serve to reach their fullest potential.  Society may consider the individuals we serve to be the least, the last and the lost.  But you and I know differently.  The individuals we serve are gifts to be treasured and we have accepted the mission to empower them to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be. That is the mission and message of LIFESPAN. And because you are an integral part of our being able to fulfill that mission, you are not, and have never been “just an employee.”  Therefore, LIFESPAN is doing away with the term “employee” and exchanging it with “ambassador.” You are a LIFESPAN Ambassador. You are valued and your work is important.  To prove it, LIFESPAN is working hard to empower you to be the best version of yourselves by offering one of the strongest, if not the strongest, employee benefits package in our sector. LIFESPAN is an amazing organization filled with amazing people doing amazing things that transform people’s lives.  I hope you’ll embrace the role of LIFESPAN Ambassador of Empowerment with pride.  I hope you’ll share the LIFESPAN message with everyone you meet and I hope you’ll engage the mission with renewed commitment. After all, it’s not a job; it’s a mission.  You’re not an employee; you’re an ambassador. I respect each of you greatly and am honored to come along side you in this mission. Respectfully, Ken, LIFESPAN Chief Ambassador of Empowerment  

Seriously? Gratitude is that Powerful?

A few important words from Amy Ford, LIFESPAN Program Director for Special Instruction & Community Based Rehabilitation Services: Spring has sprung!  It is officially spring; the daffodils are poking their heads out, the cherry trees are in blossom, the grass is greening and the birds are singing verbosely. Spring gives me a profound sense of gratitude.  But, I’ve learned some important things about GRATITUDE. Some of you know that this past year has been really rough for me, personally.   Surprisingly, I have been able to stay positive and I owe a lot of that to being able to focus on the things for which I am grateful. Even in the midst of the “hard” stuff, there are things for which we can be grateful. I have always been told that focusing on the things you are thankful for helps counteract the negative things happening all around.  That’s true and since I’m an elementary school teacher, I’ve found some interesting scientific evidence to back it up. Gratitude can: (physically) give us stronger immune systems cause us to be typically less bothered with aches & pains lower our blood pressure Gratitude can: (psychologically) give us higher levels of positive emotions make us feel more alert, alive and awake help us be more optimistic & happy Gratitude can: (socially) make us more outgoing make us more forgiving make us feel less lonely & isolated Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions and it can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of depression. Grateful people are more stress resistant.  Studies have shown that grateful people recover more quickly from serious trauma, adversity & suffering. Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth. I am inspired by this quote from self-help author, Melody Beattie: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity.  Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  I encourage all of us to fill our lives with gratitude.  It’s better for us than a multi-vitamin. (As part of our weekly “circle-up” at LIFESPAN Shopton, Amy created a garden display and had all of us to write our “gratefuls” on a butterfly and add it to the garden.) **Why Gratitude is Good by Robert Emmons / Nov 16 2010 / greatergood.berkley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good

The Art of Refurbishing

After what, I felt, was a productive meeting with a Managed Care Organization in Uptown Charlotte, Christopher invited me to swing by LIFESPAN’s Creative Campus Center City.  Never having visited 601 North Graham Street, I was curious as to what type of edifice in uptown could house a Creative Campus.   I was pleasantly surprised as we turned the corner and eased our way into the parking lot.   Creative Campus Center City is a beautiful building on a beautiful piece of property located just inside the Brookshire perimeter in Uptown Charlotte.  The facility is aesthetically pleasing and it is the kind of facility, I believe, all of the individuals we support need and deserve. Panchita Hutchinson-Jackson, Creative Campus Center City Director, greeted us at the door with her very famous and infectious smile.  For those of you who have met “Pan,” you know I’m telling the truth.  Her smile is a gift.   Pan is a transplant from New Jersey, and has worked with LIFESPAN for 25 years.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Pan celebrated her silver anniversary with LIFESPAN in October 2018. I asked “Pan” why she does what she does.  She replied, “Because it’s all I know I how to do.  I tried other professions, but I always came back to caring for these individuals.  It’s what I know how to do.  I have to do it!” Panchita and her staff do it well. The facility is well appointed, but like most facilities, there are areas that need sprucing up.  I encouraged “Pan” to always be specific about what she wants and needs for her program.   That does not mean that LIFESPAN will always be able to accommodate, but it does mean, we’ll know exactly what you want and we will work hard to make it happen. I met some of the most joyous and loving and courageous individuals and their caregivers. Our LIFESPAN ambassadors at Creative Campus Center City are:  Martha and Ruby, Michael and Yokechia, Ronald and Miracle, Mecca and Katrice, Rachelle and Tanara, Linda and Lakendra.  By the way, Lakendra and I were in pre-service training together and I’m certain she aced all the tests! I am so proud of our LIFESPAN Ambassadors.  The work you do is challenging and most days, I am certain, it seems to be a thankless job.  Please allow me to say, “Thank you!”  Thank you for caring; thank you for being faithful; thank you for going the extra mile.  It is you who make the difference in peoples’ lives every single day; it is you who are transforming the world one person at a time and it is you who make LIFESPAN what it is. When I returned to my office after visiting the Creative Campus Center City,  I was so moved by what I witnessed that I experienced one of those moments when heaven and earth intersect. The Celtics, in their spirituality, call that intersection a “thin place.”   I call those intersections “God-moments.”   Call them what you will because they do happen!   In that moment, I was even more grateful to be part of such an amazing organization as LIFESPAN. I sat down in the break room to eat a late lunch and Amy Shepherd from the Compliance Department came in to prepare herself a cup of coffee.   As we chatted, Amy shared with me that she and her husband like to pick up discarded furniture and refurbish it.  Sometimes they find it on the side of the road; sometimes they find it at a second-hand store.  But in each case, someone else has decided the piece of furniture is of no value to them any longer. Amy and her husband see value in things that other people have thrown away.   They look past the gruff exterior and see the beauty waiting to be exposed.  As Amy and I talked about her hobby, it dawned on me!   LIFESPAN is in the “bringing-out-the-beauty” business.   LIFESPAN takes those things (people) that society has deemed “throw away” or “of no value” and we re-value them.  We look past the gruff exterior and see the beauty inside; we see value in every human being and pour out of ourselves into their lives and in a way, we help refurbish them.  Of course, the truth of the matter is, they refurbish us, as well. Dear Ambassadors, the work you do will never receive the attention that a well-executed pass from Cam Newton to Greg Olsen receives.  But you are changing the world more deeply and more effectively than any inconsequential football game.  You matter. Your work is important and necessary.  LIFESPAN is working to create an organization that will allow you to flourish and be the best version of yourself as you care for the individuals we support  and help them be the best version of themselves.  I am thrilled to be on this journey with you.  – Ken Fuquay, Chief Ambassador of Empowerment