A New Year Challenge: Laugh Often, Win Respect

“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Several years ago, when I was still a supervisor in Ongoing Case Management, one of my previous team members gave me a gift, as she was moving out of state to a new position. It took me by complete surprise but warmed my heart as I opened up the present in my office. All of my team members stood and watched as this huge framed artwork was pulled out of the package.

Sara Kelly
Sara Kelly

It was a picture of a sun rising over the landscape horizon, with this quotation written out on it: “To laugh often and much, to win the respect…” The picture is still hanging in my office in my present position as a Program Director within the Ongoing unit at SaintA. I have had the honor and privilege through the years to work with such brilliant and hardworking people. Every day I learn something new from them, and they continue to inspire me to always do better.

When we talk about doing something, we must prepare ourselves for following through with this task. We must understand the humanity within the work we do on a daily basis and learn to forgive others for the mistakes they will make along the way. It took me a long time to “let go” and just be comfortable within any setting that came my way.

Because we are all human, like everyone else walking this planet, we need to learn to respect where people come/came from and feel comfortable allowing diversity and difference to happen. It’s all right to agree to disagree versus getting into arguments with others. This is at the heart of what we do and what we all need to continue doing within this field.

Some of the hardest stories will come our way within Ongoing. At times, we will have the privilege of witnessing small “miracles” with the families and children we serve. We should feel honored that we are learning something new every day from our clients and respect all walks of life, no matter what our own beliefs may be. I believe this affects how we, as leaders, should value the staff who work with us on a daily basis. We all consist of one team with one purpose and mission. We all come from different backgrounds and walks of life, but to be able to come together to complete one purpose within SaintA and to ensure the families and children we serve will have better outcomes for their futures is what it is all about.

I want others to “leave the world a bit better,” and I want to know that I’ve touched a life on some level in a positive way, whether that be one of my closest friends, one of my colleagues, my own children, the clients I’ve encountered, etc. For this, I will continue to challenge myself to be better as well as encourage others along the way to do the same.

My challenge to all at SaintA for the new year is to reflect upon your own experiences and every day challenge yourself to take time to think about the impact you make on a child’s life and how important your work is on a daily basis, to take time out to praise another person’s differences and to learn something new from others who are different than you, to take time to laugh and have fun within the work we do on a daily basis, and to realize we are all working together as a team to help motivate and empower others.


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