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Walking in Joy

If you walk in joy, happiness is close behind.

Todd Stocker

I’ve had several people over the years who have approached me with somewhat disgruntled expressions and asked, “Why are you always coming up with different ways to try and get money from us? You’ve got the Walk ‘n Roll, the Gala, Giving Tuesday, heck, you even get some money from the Tootsie Roll days. What’s the deal?” Well, the deal is that our agency’s mission statement is one that I’m incredibly proud of and I will unabashedly do whatever it takes to ensure that we have the resources necessary to care for the adults with developmental disabilities that we serve, and also to support the incredible staff that assist them!

Even though Garden Center’s mission statement is found elsewhere on the site, I want to put it here, front and center: “Advancing lives of connection, contribution, and meaning for persons with developmental disabilities and the individuals that support them.”  

Years ago, Cindy Haworth, Associate Executive Director, and I were exposed to the truth and benefits of the leadership philosophy titled Servant Leadership.  Servant leadership is a management style in which you lead by putting the needs of your employees first. Servant leaders believe that when their staff members feel personally and professionally fulfilled, they will be empowered to provide more consistent and compassionate care. I am proud that as an agency we have demonstrated our commitment to this approach by working to identify substantial programs and means which can lift up our staffs’ individual and work experience. We have a truly awesome team of managers and administrative professionals that work tirelessly to demonstrate to all of Garden Center’s employees that they are personally valued and cared about. For several years running our agency has been an active contributor to the They Deserve More coalition which has advocated with the Illinois’ legislature to provide an adequate living wage for our Direct Support Professionals (DSP). 

So what’s the potential outcomes for attending to your staff in this way? All I know is that nearly half of our direct care staff have been with us for over five years, and some for many more! As of today’s date we have only three staff vacancies at Garden Center! Through  conversations with my colleagues at other agencies I know this is unparalleled. 100% of our staff are vaccinated! We have a very dedicated executive staff team that have years of experience in this field who have now been with this agency for some time. At the end of the day I truly believe that the proof is in the pudding!

Please take care of yourselves and one another. Have safe, healthy, and joyful holidays. 

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