This week’s blog is written by SCY Program Coordinator Kate Spitzer-Cohn. Kate has been with Lurie Children’s for 8 years and her hard work and contributions in support of Chicago’s youth will be greatly missed.
Goodbyes are hard, and sitting down to write this blog has been hard. I’m nearing the end of my time with SCY, and while I am excited for what’s next and grateful for all the things I’ve learned and awesome people I’ve met, change is hard. And change in the midst of COVID…well, that’s an extra layer of hard.
So in lieu of “goodbye,” I’ve been trying to think about what I want to take with me from my time with SCY as I move on to what’s next in my life—what nuggets and lessons can I keep in my pocket and carry forward with me? As I’ve sifted through, a few things floated to the top:
1. Connection is Key: I’m an introvert by nature, and that has, at times, been an interesting thing to be on a team where so much of our work is about making connections and doing outreach. I watch some of my colleagues move seemingly easily in unfamiliar spaces with unfamiliar people, and I’m in awe of their ability to find shared interests, aims, and ease in mere moments. I struggled to relate to both the ability and the desire to network and reach out. But when we all transitioned to working from home…I had no idea how much I would miss everyday interaction with colleagues and friends. It has helped me shift my perspective a bit—I’m trying to see myself more as a person who values deep, one-on-one connection, and to remind myself that some of those more casual interactions that I find so unnatural can lead to the things I find so valuable. I appreciate being able to remind myself of the examples of my coworkers when we eventually reemerge into the world!
2. Listen to Young People: It’s easy, in day-to-day life, to dismiss young people. We see them as less knowledgeable, less experienced, not yet aware enough of the “real world.” But if everyone took a moment to listen to the youth leaders I’ve encountered through SCY—from quarterly meeting panelists to youth small group facilitators to members of our substance use youth advisory board—we’d realize that the energy and passion and perspective they bring is crucial. Young people are not stuck in the rut of how things have “always” been done—they are not afraid of change, and they are invested, because they know their own futures are at stake. They deserve our full attention.
3. Opportunity Comes from Unexpected Places: I’m a planner—I like timelines and certainty and lists. The grant reporting I do fits nicely into this—what have we done, where, when. Goals, progress, outcomes. Life, on the other hand, tends to work a little differently! When I first started working for SCY, it came out of connections I had made working on other projects at Lurie Children’s. I hadn’t gone looking for it, but it was the right place at the right time. And now, as I’m preparing to leave in the midst of so much upheaval in our world…it wasn’t what I had planned, but it’s the right thing at the right time. I’m ready for what’s next, and I’ll be taking these little bits of my SCY experience along with me as I go.