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A Call in the Night

Posted by griffithd on March 25, 2018 at 4:25 PM

It is rarely good news when the phone rings late at night. The same when your text reads “ Call, it’s urgent.” Such was the case last week.

ECS is made up of some 150 individuals focused on the issues of intergenerational poverty in the Philadelphia region. The work is challenging, but one thing that makes it less so are the individuals we work with, as they are called to this work, dedicated, and talented. For the most part, we are a close-knit organization. So when we lose one of our own, it is not work, it is family.

Cindy Stewart worked most of her professional life at ECS. First at St Barnabas and then at Third Street. We lost Cindy suddenly to a brain aneurysm a week ago Thursday. She was with us Wednesday and then gone.

Cindy was called to this work, Cared deeply for the individuals we serve, focused on her community, and maintained a faith that gave her both strength and wisdom. She shared that strength and wisdom with everyone, both participants, and fellow employees. She had a sense of humor and a laugh that was infectious. People came to her for advice. Perhaps her greatest strength is she was curious, believed in self-improvement, and if she felt strongly about something was calmly candid in bringing it to your attention. As office manager, she also kept me in Diet Coke.

We gathered as a leadership team Monday and taking a page from our Quaker friends held Cindy in the light and in the quiet invited her colleagues to speak if so-called.

People spoke of an individual who cared, who laughed, whom you could count on, who modeled curiosity and hard work. Who they loved and whom they would miss. They also spoke about her faith and belief in God and that this was not an ending, but a beginning.

I am of an age that I have lost friends and employees. Some with time to say goodbye, some the news came on a late night call. What I realized is that for many of my young managers this was the first time in such a situation, where a peer had passed, and there had been no time for preparation.

I asked them to take a lesson from this experience. That is that we just don’t know what tomorrow holds and that the time we have, is what we have. Use it wisely, speak the truth, act with values, and let the people you care about, know you care. Be thoughtful about how you spend your time.

I have always been mindful that our time is short. It is why I am intentional about the work we do and the individuals we do it with and the impacts we are attempting to create. I feel the same way about family.

God bless Cindy and thank you for her life and her example. It is an extraordinary privilege to work with such individuals, and she is one of many such individuals that carry the water in our work at ECS. While she is gone, we know she is always with us. I take her example to heart and I am grateful she was part of my professional life.

Godspeed and know we hold you and your family in the light.

Peace. You never know when the phone will ring.

Categories: ECS Outreach, Muddy Boots, Leadership

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