Almost a year ago, just as I was tossing around the tiny ideas that would sprout into Reach Every Voice, a young man, who attended my good friend's camp for children with autism, a camp where I'd worked for six years, passed away suddenly. At camp. It was no one's fault. All the staff did everything they could. And it was a loss. A huge, heart-wrenching, earth-shattering loss. This event rocked everyone so much that they began to question how it would be possible to go on. Watching this immense grief while considering a launch for my own business, I wondered if I would be strong enough to handle all the things that come along with owning a business and holding its weight on my own. Working with kids with unique needs or medical fragilities is a hard job.
But none of us got into this field because we were looking for an easy profession, a nine to five job where we leave the office and forget about work over weekends. We followed a passion to work with the most incredible human beings, the ones who need us the most - to project and share their voices, to foster inclusion, and to help their amazing personalities shine brighter.
When we see our kids - because let's be honest, who among us doesn't claim these guys as their own - thriving, succeeding at a new skill, changing perceptions, enjoying life, our hearts can swell with the joy of knowing our choice of jobs was well made. But when a loss as big as losing a child, a camper, a student happens, it becomes clear again why this is such a hard job. Our hearts, which were once so full of joy, now seem shredded irreparably. It makes sense to question that choice and to ask if maybe it isn't time for an easier job, one where we can invest less and thus be hurt less. One that won't leave our hearts in pieces.
But we didn't choose this job with our brains; we chose it with our hearts because it is our passion. It is who we are.
Now, after almost a year's time, it is still painful. But we take our hearts and stitch them back together good memory by good memory, hope by hope. And we stitch in the ones we've lost, because they're a permanent part of our hearts now, which are bigger for it.
I've stopped questioning my choice about launching something new because I don't question what my heart and my passion told me in the beginning. There's a reason I made this choice; I'm making it again now with a bigger heart, holding the kiddos I've lost in what I do every day. From this love and this passion, I'm so grateful to bring Reach Every Voice into existence, and I can't wait to meet all the incredible individuals - children, families, professionals - who will get stitched into my heart as we grow.