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We made a new friend! Exchange leadership with Becky

October 31, 2012

Over the last month we’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Rebecca (Becky) Burton, who regularly works with Ononadaga Community Living in Syracuse, New York State.   An informal network of organizations interested in best practices and learning from each other, mostly affiliated through our mutual friend Michael Kendrick, has been exchanging leaders for a while and it’s a great way to learn from each other.   Someone from Ireland went to Onondaga and worked there for a month, handling Becky’s job, while she came here and worked with us.   The exhange leader’s wages continue to be paid by the organization they work for and they act in a kind of volunteer capacity where they go, helping out as they can.   We had her join us in lots of different conversations, where she was able to tell us about her experiences, and we used her as a “live-in” consultant for someone who was looking for a new support model.   At the end of her month we sat down with her to get feedback about what we were doing well and what we might want to think about, from her perspective as someone working for an agency with similar person-centred values.

And we also felt, as individuals, that we made a friend.   Becky was lovely, attentive, watchful for learning opportunities, willing to jump in and help out and just an all-round great person.   Some of our self advocate friends got together to host a pot luck and meet her, though by then most of them were already friends with her on Facebook.   We’re looking forward to our next experience, which will probably be to send one of our leaders somewhere for more learning opportunities.   But Becky has given us (as our visit to Onondaga a year or so ago gave us) a lot to think about and aspire to.

As people who are passionate about the idea of relationship and interdependence, it was interesting to notice the ways in which we got to know Becky – we shared common interests and values, over the month we did the same things together at the same time, we introduced her to our networks, who welcomed her and expanded our scope of what might happen.   And at the end of our time together we sent her off with some good advice on how to act like a Canadian, including some Canuck summer-wear (a toque and Olympic mitts!).   All around a great experience.

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