Finding Passion and Purpose … Beyond My Cubicle

Oftentimes, passion and career don’t overlap. And, to me, that is ok. Someone might have a passion for painting but it’s not their chosen career path because after all, they aren’t THAT great. I think it’s important to find our passion, whatever it might be, and figure out how to incorporate it into our lives. And if it doesn’t relate to your career path, then figure something out in order to have that passion in your life. Every day. And if your passion and your career do line up, then good for you!

According to a commencement speech by Mike Rowe, host of TV show Dirty Jobs, “Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you. Let your passion lead you when it comes to hobbies. But passion is ‘way too fickle to follow around’ when settling into a career.”

I totally agree with Mike on this concept. I have always wanted to be a part of something inspiring, meaningful…and quite frankly, bigger than myself. If it wasn’t for my quick gag reflex, I would have become a nurse. I struggled with this for years when working in the Interior Design industry, as I didn’t feel that my passion for helping people was quite aligning the way I had wished. But I never knew what to do to break through the “funk” I was feeling. I would volunteer at miscellaneous events at church, attend the occasional fundraising bingo night, or write a letter to my sponsored child in Haiti. But it never felt like enough. I knew I needed more.

One day, a friend of mine, Lynn Walker, approached me. I had known her son, Caleb, who passed away at the age of 24 from brain cancer. She wanted to see if I would be interested in being a part of a non-profit that Caleb had started before he passed away, called A Week Away. To me, this was a no-brainer. “Yes, of course!” I started out small by joining the committee that plans the annual golf tournament. Now, two years later, I am the Secretary for the Board of Directors and the Chair of a committee.

A Week Away finances and coordinates respites for families that are dealing with a life-threatening illness. We plan everything in order for them to “get away” from their life that is filled with doctor appointments, treatments schedules, and constant chaos. The patient and their family might choose to go to the beach for a week of relaxation, or to the mountains for some adventure. We have found, and witnessed firsthand, that time away helps patients feel “normal” again and they are able to regain the strength they need to keep fighting. Not to mention creating memories with their loved ones doing something they wouldn’t have been able to do on their own. Many families we assist have never been away from home, either due to finances or due to the need for medical assistance. When necessary, we are able to send the appropriate medical team that can help make their respite week as enjoyable as possible.

As Chair of the Respite Planning Committee, I ensure that we are planning the best possible respite for the families and that we are building lasting relationships with them. Our goal is to be there for the patients and their families for support and guidance – before, during, and after their respite.

A Week Away is based out of Lancaster, PA, but word is quickly spreading across the country…mostly due to social media (there’s my marketing plug!).

Sure, a lot of my spare time is spent attending meetings, catching up on emails, communicating with our patients, and keeping up with my never-ending organized spreadsheets. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I have the capacity in my life right now to do this, and I want to make a difference. To one family or 100 families. It’s all worth it. Every minute of it. Because after all, I’m truly passionate about it.

I believe there are physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of being part of something that you are truly dedicated to and passionate about. When there is a level of commitment to something you love, big things can happen. From my experience, here are the big ones that I have seen happen in my life:

True Fulfillment – There are times when I just feel like I don’t have the time to fit one more thing into my day. But then, I think about the families we have helped. And I think about the families we are going to help. I think about the smiles on their faces and the memories that they are creating, all because of what we do. There is nothing more rewarding than being a part of something good. Truly good.

Growth & Learning – Being a part of A Week Away has impacted my personal and my professional skills, immensely. It has forced me out of my comfort zone at times and challenged my communication, organization, and prioritization skills – which are all things that my job at Scheffey can benefit from. Win-win.

Change in Perspective – My view of life has changed. In fact, it took a 180-degree turn. I see life, faith, health, love, happiness, sadness, and stress in a whole new light. Seeing the love of a mother for a child sick with cancer, or a husband who wants to do anything possible to make the life for his wife who is in constant pain stress-free, changes your perspective on everything.

Friendships – Last, but certainly not least, are the amazing friendships I have made. When a group of people with the same passion and commitment for a common purpose come together, strong relationships are naturally going to form. You attend meetings and events together, and build connections that evolve into friendships. You laugh and cry together. I know that my “A Week Away family” is a strong bond that will last a lifetime.

So, what’s your passion? Maybe it’s gardening, community involvement, helping disabled children, cooking, or the welfare of animals. How can you continue to incorporate it into your life? It might seem overwhelming to fit it in at times, but trust me, it’s worth the effort.