When people ask why you joined a Board of Directors for a non-profit they are most often anticipating a heartwarming story of immediate connection with the mission of the organization. Sitting on a Board is often not glamorous and involves a lot of agenda driven conversation, voting on motions, and reviewing an unending stream of paperwork. It would take someone whose heart is in the mission of a nonprofit to join their Board. However, if I am to be honest about why I joined the Board for Hildebrand it wouldn’t involve this immediate “mission connection.” I joined the Board for Hildebrand because I was told too.
In 2007, I was working at Coldwell Banker and on top of my regular job I spearheaded a few different events for local non-profits. At that time one of the executives, Mark Lippolt, was highly involved in the charitable arm of the company. I never hesitated to work on anything that Mark brought my way and always felt passionate and driven to make the event successful. So imagine my dismay when one day Mark pulled me aside to tell me he felt I could do more, that I could do better, that I should step outside my comfort zone. And here I was thinking “but isn’t this enough?”
Mark saw something in me at the time and since he is now not only a mentor but a dear friend, I can see it more clearly. What Mark saw in me was POTENTIAL.
POTENTIAL: it is a strong word. Sometimes it is a dangerous word – but mostly it is an unstoppable word. If you see potential in someone, you are seeing them move forward despite obstacles placed in front of them.
How does this tie into Hildebrand? It’s easy: when a client walks through the door here is what the staff at Hildebrand does NOT see: failure, inability, weakness. What the Hildebrand staff does see in the clients: POTENTIAL. Hildebrand sees a client finding safe shelter, getting a job, caring for their own mental well-being as well as their children’s and, eventually, finding permanent housing and becoming self-sufficient.
Here are some other things about seeing the potential in someone – when you see potential in someone you are telling them that you have faith in them, you believe in them, that they are considered worthy. When you see potential in someone you see success and not just failure, you see the joys, the obstacles, the high and lows and everything in between, and you never see the end because there is no end.
Imagine having that every day of your life? You walk through a door with no home, no money, in crisis mode and yet someone is standing there telling you that you will succeed and they will help you because where you are now does not define you. And that is what Hildebrand does. They never leave your side. They walk that path with every client.
I am happy to report that in Mark seeing my potential, I have seen the potential in myself with Hildebrand. I have scratched the surface of my own life to learn that maybe I’m not so far from that family that walks through Hildebrand’s front door. That my ancestors at one time were searching for a Hildebrand to see their potential.
If you were to ask me today why I am still on the Board of Hildebrand and why I serve as the Chair I would tell you it is because I witness a staff that leads by example, that when I go to meetings I hear the good and the bad our clients experience and I learn from staff members what it means to walk next to someone on their path. I would tell you it is because I believe that Hildebrand’s vision, every family has a home, is not just a dream but a reality. I am passionate about supporting an organization that can see a better future, regardless of the starting point, and strives to achieve this for every client.
As we go through this holiday season ask yourself if you could see the potential in a homeless family that walked through your front door. You would certainly want to help them, but how? At Hildebrand, we can show you. We can show you what it means to partner with families to help them regain their footing, to help them prepare for the workforce, to build life skills that they may have never learned. We can share with you the excitement we feel every time we “ring the bell” in the office indicating that a family has found a permanent home or even the small victories when we hold a mothers hand as she tell us what it is like to be able to find and keep a job that will help her family remain self-sufficient.
Potential: sometimes it takes an outsider to see it in us. But once they see it, there is no stopping us!
Happy Holidays to all of you! And if you would like to learn more about Hildebrand and our potential please do not hesitate to reach out to us! We are always looking for new friends!
614 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139