This particular day my marketing career brought me to Belle Isle for the 2008 Celebrate Recovery Walk. It turned out to be more of a swim if you catch my drift.
As I stood bewildered, I was approached by one of our outpatient team leaders and he introduced his waterlogged wife. We exchanged laughs and I thought “for better or worse”, this woman is a trooper; he is definitely going to spend the rest of his weekend doing whatever chores his wife conjures up.
I scanned the rest of the field and saw a group of ten of our clients sporting Sacred Heart tee shirts we had given them. The tee shirts were five shades darker than when I last saw them dry. If you were to ask them to exchange them for something dry I am sure they would shoot you a look as if you must be crazy; the tees were now one of their most prized possessions.
I also noticed there was a shortage of tents and there were four people to an umbrella. I learned from our clients and Howie, one of our Residential Care Technicians (RCT) that our tent has not yet arrived and it is estimated it will take an hour to assemble. I opened my umbrella and a female client readily accepted my invite along with two others, the rest were adorned in garbage bags.
“Great,” I thought as the rain attacked my once dry shoes and attire. “How could this possibly get worse?” But the chain of events that followed next never let me find out the answer to that question.
I text messaged our C.E.O. and stated that “I wish to put in my two weeks notice, I am drenched and on Belle Isle.” He replies, “So am I…I’m at trhe bridge”. I excused his typo because his hands were probably as pruned as mine and I produced a grin.
Once the clients, Howie and I saw them bring our tent we rushed over to claim our new shelter from the rain. Our clients and staff member didn’t hesitate to offer their assistance. I beamed with pride and dripped with rain.
The clients, Howie and I all set up our table and extracted our drenched brochures and our give away items from my tote bag. We then waited for the walkers to cross the bridge and come back to us. The clients took turns using my umbrella to stroll around and check out the other exhibits, always asking permission for the umbrella and the stroll.
You could see the flashing police escort and hear the rumble of the band. I said to our clients, “Are you ready to defend our dry tent? Here come the walkers.” They laughed and said, “Yes,” with conviction as the walkers came rolling in.
I soon felt a tap on my shoulder and it was the soaked C.E.O. of Sacred Heart, Grady. His tennis shoes spout water from their ventilation pores on top and his glasses beaded with precipitation. He greeted all of the clients from Memphis and rejected my two week notice request as he bopped me on my soaked MSU cap. He said he walked right behind our New Life Home for Recovering Women clients, whom melted right into our dry quarters and befriended our Memphis clients, and thanked us before we could thank them for coming.
What happened next was astounding. As Grady and I passed out our materials to the walkers, we were slowly being overcome by our clients taking on the same task. Our clients were talking to other clients from competing organizations and telling them how much they love Sacred Heart and how lucky they were to take part in our treatment program; how hard people worked to find them funding and how their therapist and other staff will not give up on them; that they were sorry that the person they were talking too didn’t make it into our program; and if they need to get treatment again to “try us and take this brochure and gift, it’s from Sacred Heart”. That’s right they said try “us”.
I looked over at Grady and he already knew what was happening. He said, “Do you remember the question you asked me at our last conference? As a professional in this industry how do I keep my spirits up and motivation decade after decade?” He looks at our table being manned without us and said “this motivates me.” As if he were just recharged for another decade. He continued in his ever mentoring way “We have no idea how many people we touched today. One tiny brochure that you designed can spark a lifetime of sobriety.”
We could have been anything we wanted. But we chose to work for Sacred Heart. An organization where our C.E.O. stands wet, shoulder to shoulder with our clients, whom sell our company for us and keep us all in their hearts forever.
-ESTEE WEBER, Sacred Heart Marketing Services Coordinator