Apr30TueApril 30, 2019
What is on your mind these days?
I have just returned from a tremendous two-week vacation in Europe visiting my daughter and son-in-law. We visited France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Portugal. We were at Notre Dame taking pictures just hours before the fire broke out. We watched candles being lit, quietly marveling at the beauty of the cathedral, the stained-glass windows, the statues, the grandeur. Just hours later, the pictures I had taken were a mere reflection of something that no longer existed – only ashes remained where we had walked. I can’t help but think how quickly, without warning where we stand today can be so easily consumed and destroyed. It will take years and years to rebuild this cathedral.
This has left me thinking about the importance of prevention. What we do today is so important for tomorrow.
Plan to Protect® is facing its own changes. How are you feeling about the upcoming changes?
For the past twelve years, we have continued to grow as an organization and have seen very little turnover in staff – only growth. In the last few months, we have said goodbye to a number of key staff members – Naomi and Karli taking maternity leave, Naomi being called to the pastorate, Victoria moving to Kenya to take up the role as Child Protection Coordinator with Rift Valley Academy, Bridget taking on a job closer to her home. This has created a lot of changes in our little office. Though I find it very sad to say goodbye to individuals that have been so instrumental in our growth and success, I am choosing to smile at the future and look forward to what is in store for us. Our team is changing, but the values of the company will remain the same. I love challenges, so finding new team members that share those values inspires me.
What do you look for in a new staff member?
I read every book on leadership I can. So, I am always on the hunt for individuals with competence to do the posted role, individuals with great character and team members that have the chemistry to fit into the culture at Plan to Protect®. Everyone that we have had work with Plan to Protect® is committed to safety, but regularly hearing stories of abuse can be tough. You become a little bit less trusting, more discerning, and more aware of the dangers around us. Therefore, I look for staff that are willing to show mercy and compassion to clients, be generous, control anger and frustration, laugh often, and continue to learn.
Do you find it difficult to encourage clients to take on abuse prevention and protection? Isn’t every organization committed though to abuse prevention and protection of the vulnerable sector?
I recently met with a potential client that spent a significant amount of time early in our meeting telling me how committed they were to protection, and that it was a priority of the agency. However, when we looked at what steps they had taken to demonstrate that priority they had taken very few, if any, steps. The organization had been around for 80 years, but they had no policies in place, had never screened any workers, they provided no training to their workers on abuse prevention and responding to abuse, and had little to no supervision or call for accountability of workers in place.
If we are really committed to protection, we will conduct our programs in a manner that is both safe for the children, youth, and vulnerable adults that we serve, and demonstrates care for our staff and volunteers. If we are really committed to protection, we will not only believe that all people have the right to live free of fear or any form of abuse or exploitation, but we will create and maintain an environment that aims to prevent these circumstances by means of safety policies and procedures. We will be willing to use tough love to ensure that everyone is on board with our commitment and steps we are taking to prevent injury, harm, and abuse. The vast majority of individuals have good intentions, but we will take every step necessary to safeguard against the few who do not.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I have a few of them. One is probably when leaders of organizations ask what the minimum is they have to do for protection. That seems like an oxymoron to me – to say they are a leader but they want to do the minimum needed for protection. I am all about raising the bar on protection and truly want to inspire people to do the most we can to protect the innocence of children and care for our elderly and those with special needs. I find it incomprehensible that at the most vulnerable stages of someone’s life there are individuals that will exploit them.
Therefore, I realize not every organization will choose to use our services. I’m OK with that. HOWEVER, I am truly thankful for the thousands of organizations that do choose Plan to Protect® and are committed to raising the bar on protection. It is you I think about every day and am committed to helping you face the damage that could occur at any time.
What is a quote you are currently thinking about?
“We are a 120-year-old organization – the best time for us to have had a child safety policy was 120 years ago, however the second-best time is today!” Trainer
I wish that leaders would stop saying it is too bad we have to do abuse prevention or that we never had to do this in the past. We really should have. Perhaps we could have prevented a lot of abuse from happening. However, now is the second-best time to make sure we are doing everything we can to prevent abuse from happening. Is it time for you to put policies and procedures in place?