Last week Braid received some big news.
We learned that we are among 15 semifinalists for The Encore Prize, a national competition that will award $50,000 to two winners with innovative ideas for connecting people over age 50 in improving the lives of vulnerable youth. (Click the link to vote every day this month to help us reach the finals!)
It’s an amazing honor and opportunity, but it also comes with a lot of work over the next month – interviews, conference calls, peer presentations, and a lot of publicity efforts. And we were notified that Braid was a semifinalist less than 24 hours before Chris was heading to the other side of the country for two weeks.
My to-do list for this month was already WAY too long. The major project – getting Braid set up in Salesforce – would be a Herculean task in and of itself, on top of the regular work of planning upcoming team events, communications, launching two teams, and supporting all of our existing mentor teams. And did I mention that our four youth who had been to summer camp were scheduled to get dropped off right in the middle of our monthly mentor training, which I would be leading solo??
The photo I chose for this post sums up my excited-but-overwhelmed reaction to this good news, that peculiar tension between not knowing whether I should celebrate or cry.
Full disclosure: the first thing I did when we received the news was to lie down on the floor of our office for about fifteen minutes. And then…I asked for help.
Reaching out for help hasn’t always been one of my strengths, and I know I’m not alone in that. I don’t want to appear weak or incompetent, and sometimes it feels easier to just try to juggle everything myself. But in this case, there was just no way I could go it alone. I had to send out an S.O.S.
First, I emailed our wonderful team facilitator Wendy Cliff and asked for her advice about some of the upcoming team events. She put her head together with one of our mentors and sent me back some great ideas. And – totally unsolicited – she offered to lead the mentor training with me on Saturday, help I hadn’t even realized I needed but that was a total godsend.
Next, I emailed all the mentors of the youth who had been to camp, asking if any of them could come meet their youth on Saturday at the Braid office to help get them back to their respective homes so Wendy and I could finish the mentor training. Within a couple days, a total of eight mentors were on board to those four youth back from camp. Those mentors and youth ate lunch with our trainees and went around the table sharing the reasons why they love being – or having – mentors. Their answers nearly had me in tears, marveling yet again at the beauty of what Braid mentors do every week to support their youth, and it was hands-down the most hectic but most heartwarming training we’ve ever had.
Finally, on something of a whim, I listed our Salesforce project on the Taproot Foundation website, which connects pro bono consultants to nonprofits. They have helped us in the past on projects with our communications, but this was a totally new area. By the next day I had interviews scheduled with three amazing potential consultants who will be able to help us, free of charge, and by next week one of them should be on board.
I’m still overwhelmed, but now it’s in a good way.
Now I am drowning in the abundance of everything that has been offered so graciously and willingly by colleagues and friends, even beyond what I initially asked. And it has reminded me that my not asking for help was not only self-punishment – it was forgetting the basic premise of my own faith tradition.
I just ran across a passage from a book one of my professors from seminary wrote this spring: “In truth, we might catch up the whole of the Christian faith in this little word more. It is the larger room we are invited to inhabit; it is the greater confidence and hope that we dare to profess; it is the greater love that we are astonished to receive, more, always more than we deserve. God is the Name of this ‘more.’ Always God exceeds.” (The Rev. Dr. Kate Sonderegger, “The Doctrine of God”)
When I think of that larger room and that greater love, I think of the Braid community, and I am so grateful that it is such a beautiful illustration of ‘more’ every week, especially this one!