A reflection from Julie DeConto, Operations Manager
Last Christmas season the Reality Center hallways were silent. We were working from home; all our programming was virtual. We made the best of it, but oh my goodness, THIS season this place feels alive again! The hallways are loud in the best ways. I’m lucky enough to have an office in the middle of it all! Here are some things I’ve observed recently from my office chair:
- SOOOOO much laughter pouring out of the room where a group is playing Sports Trivia. Team Wildcats vs. Team Childcare in uproarious competition
- A mother presenting her (now 36-year-old) son Matthew’s infant hat to his Community Leader’s new baby
- Delectable smells wafting from the kitchen…the Cafe Crew cooking delicious, thoughtful Reality Farm-grown food
- Friends chatting, making plans together, sharing the big news and small news of one another’s lives…“WIll you be at bowling tomorrow?” “Next week I’m going to visit my aunt.” “I got the job!”
- New volunteers coming in to meet with Tammy, our Volunteer Coordinator, eyes wide open with a look of “What is this place?!?!” Probably having no idea how their lives will be changed
- Outside the window Greg, from the garden crew, pulling the trash can up from the street, just like we all do at our own houses weekly … choosing to care for this space like home
- A participant stepping into the “quiet room,” to take a little break from the group (we all get overwhelmed sometimes)
- Opening the mail to find a donation with a note from an former volunteer who has since moved away, sharing how much Reality impacted them
- One Direction’s “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” blasting from Beth, Neema and the rest of the karaoke crew across the hall (Music and dance are a huge part of daily life here, connecting us and bubbling up joy in us. As I write this a conga line just passed my office door!)
It might sound like this place is always full of laughter and fun; but that’s not the case. The joy AND the pain we all carry show up here because our friendships are real and people are complicated. From my office chair I also hear the sounds of tearful conversations as friends grieve together (in recent months we’ve been rocked by the loss of our friends Jean, Ms. Pettway, Asia, and Gary). I hear folks arguing like siblings, complaining, worrying and comforting one another.
I’m so grateful that Reality is a place where you can show up just as you are.
This Christmas I hope you experience freedom to show up just as you are, and to know that you are deeply loved.