By: Alyssa Bokelman, communities and collaboration manager, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

When I was younger, friends and family would ask me, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and I always had a hard time answering them. I didn’t have a clear path laid out before me, unlike some of my friends, who knew what they wanted to do. So, I answered the same way each time, “I don’t exactly know. I want to help people, make their lives better somehow, but I’m not sure how or what that looks like.”

Fast forward to 2019, I’m the communities and collaboration manager for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. When asked about what I do, I never start out by saying that I help people. Now, I say that I help staff and members connect, network, and engage with one another via myAlliance and our Alliance Peer Exchange (APEX) groups. I see how my answer to the old, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” question has been fulfilled in its own unique way. I am making people’s lives better through the work I do at the Alliance, but there are days that I feel disconnected. Due to the daily and weekly noise that comes with any job, the "why" we do what we do can get lost. 

In September 2018, the Alliance rolled out some new updates to myAlliance. These updates not only included improved navigation and functionality, but debuted the “What’s Your Why?” blog, which gives all staff at Alliance member organizations the opportunity to share more about themselves than just their job title or what they do. They can share their stories about what motivates them to come to work every day and what drives them to keep striving for the best, despite the weight of the difficulties they face.

Remembering why we do what we do can help reignite our drive and help our fellow members who feel excited about similar hurdles. Our “whys” can unite us under a common understanding, that even though we may have different backgrounds, we all endeavor to make real-world impact for those we serve. Some of your fellow members have already shared their stories in myAlliance. I find that every time I read them, my own “why” becomes a little stronger, the certainty that I lost along the way becomes a little clearer, and I become a little more motivated to do more for those around me. I find that I don’t feel alone.

The following members have shared their “whys”

  • David Griffith, executive director, Episcopal Community Services
  • John Van Cleef, executive director, Community Resource Center
  • Ted Kurt, CFO, Arrowhead Youth and Family Services
  • Howard Garval, founder & principal, Leaders 4 Futures LLC
  • Hope Liu, director of organizational learning, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

I encourage all of you to share your story. It only takes a few minutes, and it may help re-inspire or connect you with other Alliance members who share similar drives. Every story matters, have you shared yours?