Team facilitators work hard on the sidelines to set our mentor teams up for success.

Earlier this week, at the first Golden State Warriors game of the season, the team held a ceremony to receive their championship rings from last year.

After the owners, coaches, and players had all received their rings, the team called up one other person – Eric Housen, their director of team operations – to receive a ring.

Last year I read a profile of Housen in The New York Times that details the day-in-day-out responsibilities of this hard-working employee.

Housen started as a ball boy for the Warriors in 1985, when he was in the seventh grade, and he has worked for them ever since.

According to the NYT article, Housen “juggles no fewer than a gazillion jobs.” In short, he manages every last detail of making sure the team gets where they need to go and has everything they need when they get there: transportation, hotels, uniforms, food.

The writer aptly describes him as a “behind-the-scenes force.”

Reading about Housen, you quickly understand that he is so attentive to these details because of his deep care for his players. He is invested in helping them be their best, whatever it takes.

“I wish I could get them a bucket or a rebound or draw up a play,” Housen said. “But I can’t do any of that, so I try to work as hard as I can for them from here.”

In a lot of ways, Housen reminds me of our behind-the-scenes forces at Braid: team facilitators.

This is a position that is unique to our program, and it’s one that doesn’t always make sense to volunteers joining Braid teams.

We know that our mentors are all smart people who are capable of managing their own arrangements and schedules, so at first the presence of a facilitator can seem like an extra and unnecessary addition.

But just as Housen deals with taxis and hotels so the Warriors players can keep their focus on basketball, our team facilitators interface with a youth’s caregivers and other service providers so mentors can stay focused on youth.

While mentors are dedicating at least an hour a week to time with their youth, facilitators are also committing several hours each week: arranging team visits, checking in with caregivers, and participating in a weekly call with other facilitators, Chris and myself to share best practices and learn from each other’s experiences.

They are sitting on the sidelines cheering for every team outing and checking in to see what else they can do – and what else Braid can do – to make sure mentors have everything you need to be a great team.

And they’re doing this because their hearts are firmly invested in this mission.

All of our facilitators are part of Braid because they care deeply about the youth we serve, and they know that a huge part of that is taking good care of our mentors.

Unfortunately, while facilitators work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that mentors’ time with our youth will be a success, they don’t get to directly experience the joy of a great outing.

That’s why they love hearing from their teams each week, even and especially when there are no issues to report, when they can share in the joy when an outing goes well and hear about the fruits of their labor.

Each of them deserves a championship ring and more!

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