I recently celebrated my 17th year anniversary at Penny Lane Centers. This came with memories of years gone by, a flood of emotions, and of course, with reflective thoughts.
One recurring memory surfaced again and took me back to a gathering we had in North Hills a few years ago. There was a luncheon to honor and appreciate some of our donors and some of my colleagues and I were sitting around this round table, eating and talking. At the time, I had been working at Penny Lane for about 7 years as a therapist, and to be honest, loving every year of it, with all the ups and downs along the way. So, there I was sitting with fellow therapists and enjoying the break from work.
We had a new therapist among us who had started working in another department a couple months before this event. It was my first contact with her, so I was so excited to share some of my experiences with her, things related to being a therapist, and some insights into what it is like to work here at Penny Lane, and so on. I cannot tell you how happy I get to talk about these topics, and how I can go on and on about things that I am passionate about, but I have learned through time to stop here and there and let the other person say a few words too. She was a great listener and said, “Wow, how long have you been working here?” Before I got a chance to answer another therapist, who I thought knew me well, jumped in with laughter and answered, “oh, he is a lifer, he has been here forever.” Ok, I got the joke and knew that was totally uncalled for. I was not about to take a projection like that lightly and let the great gathering go to waste, so, I looked our new colleague in the eyes and went on a tangent, “I have been here for about 7 years now, time goes by quickly when you are having fun. You see, to me, there is nothing greater than serving our community and getting paid by our community. This is a nonprofit clinic; our salaries come from taxpayers and donors like these we are honoring today. I can probably do this, serving my community that is, for the rest of my life. So, she is absolutely right, I am doing this for life.”
It has been ten years and a couple of promotions since that lovely day where perceptions collided, and vows were renewed. I am now in a position where I interview and put staff in the hiring process, and you can bet that I continue with long stories and memorable reflections during each interview. Well, I want everyone to know what they are getting themselves into. It is not easy to operate a non-profit community clinic, and Penny Lane is no exception. There are demands at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as financial commitments, namely the overwhelming amount of payroll to be processed every two weeks, all of which make for long days of work and fewer breaks in between for all employees. I share all of this with potential new staff and then let them know where the rewards are. I do share that the pay is good, in some cases more than good, and the enhancements for going above and beyond the expectations are exceptional, but that is not all. I tell them that the true satisfaction is simply in making a difference within our communities, changing lives, and seeing families become healthier and happier. I tell them that the true reward comes while walking down the street and hearing a voice calling your name,
“hey dude, you still at Penny Lane?” and you turn around and recognize your old client across the street and yell out loud, “you know it my boy, I am doing life here. What are you up to?”