Vicki Goldsmith Retiring
I'm the Lucky One.
Reflections of 20 Years with Cape Cod's Habitat, by Vicki Goldsmith.
Have no doubt that when I reflect upon my two-decade relationship with all of you, who are our local Habitat, I know that I am the lucky one. Because for the better part of my working life, I have spent each day surrounded by people who are driven by generosity, love and caring. And, I have “the best seat in the house,” as witness to our work. I am present at so many moments of joy and celebration in each new homeowner's journey. As well, my participation with key decisions, problem solving, fundraising, and day-in day-out project management makes for some very sweet and exhilarating moments, as we persist to overcome hurdles to forge homes and neighborhoods from early hopes and aspirations.
I took a risk in 1999 when I applied to Habitat to be its first full-time executive director (and first full-time staff person), leaving a secure job to join a young non-profit that aspired to grow and build more homes for more local families. Financially, I was moving in the wrong direction. My gamble was that I would spend more hours each day of my life doing work that would energize me and feed my soul. As staff leader of our local Habitat, I have been able to work each day within some of my core values:
• That basic shelter, food, water, and health care are essential human rights. And that when private market forces do not foster access to these essentials, public or private intercession is required.
• That service is our prayer; that faith is manifest in our action.
• That on this earth we are blessed with an abundance to provide for all human beings. For this reason, I love Habitat’s practice of tithing 10% of unrestricted funds to support shelter solutions in more impoverished nations.
• That the roles of server and served, giver and receiver are fluid and reciprocal. I love that Habitat practices the principal of partnership, rather than considering future homeowners as recipients or clients.
As staff leader, I have been privileged to spend my days with people who are kind, people who like to do, people who are brave and who dare, people who know stuff I don’t, people who have their unique life’s wisdom to share, people who care, people who give with joy. I cannot name one such person without naming a thousand. Lucky me, right? As staff leader, I spend my days planning, problem solving, listening, coordinating, working with numbers, speaking for Habitat, moving from the plane of vision and ideas to program, policies and systems. I love that stuff! The Habitat model thrives in collaborative mode. Whether in music, sports, family life, or work – I love the collaborative process – that delicate balance between the ownership of areas of responsibility, and teamwork in planning, problem solving, and implementation.
Over the years, here at Habitat, I have learned to assume the best in people; we almost always achieve better outcomes by assuming the best. This requires us to communicate more fully when another’s words or actions run contrary to expectations or our own beliefs. I have gotten better at not making assumptions. Often in real life, “two plus two” does not, in fact, equal four because human issues are layered beyond what is most easily visible or apparent. I’ve learned that living in gratitude is a practice to be actively cultivated. People who live in gratitude make better workmates, are more enjoyable to be around, and bring better energy to their work and play. And I continue to strive to be a better practitioner of the ever valuable art and skill of listening.
I continue to get a “rush” at each wall raising and dedication – hearing the voice of the homeowners, catching the palpable excitement of their children, and witnessing the manifestation of community connections and generosity, the well earned pride of accomplishment for everyone involved.
I am grateful for so many acts of kindness, and for those who have forgiven my missteps – or those of staff or volunteer associates. I am grateful for caring, frank and passionate words received. I regret that I do not know more of you better. In 2000, I pretty much knew each volunteer and most donors by name and face. While it is a testament to our growth that such knowing would be impossible today, there was a sweetness to that time.
Today I find deep satisfaction in how many of our Habitat participants have evolved into a loving and caring extended family. Many dear friendships have been forged in the course of our work, as well as valuable networks, warm acquaintances -- people who lend a hand to each other in sickness and in health.
Fellowship, community, and scores of lovingly built, sturdy, warm affordable homes; lives transformed by Habitat’s loving “hand up.” That is the legacy I am proud to have been a part of.
As time has gone by, I take increasing pride that we continue to grow and thrive and accomplish more together; we continue to attract the most marvelous contributors and volunteers; and we continue to garner a terrific reputation locally, as well as regionally and nationally within Habitat for Humanity – for the quality, consistency and life changing impact of our work. My unique role in such a volunteer-rich organization has been to help create and maintain a platform for the success for all of you; to cultivate our culture of welcome and appreciation, to help keep us all moving together in the same direction with energy and passion, so that we have all the elements for the success of each project ready to go on wall raising day.
I have loved being a part of your team – and will savor my final months on staff. You are the best! Thank you.