#MapYourJourney . . . RoiAnn

rrp 2012I am involved with respectful, community-based, peer-to-peer support during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting because, as the daughter of a mom who struggled with depression during all my growing-up years, I know deep in my bones how much moms need support. Moms need to be heard, accepted, and met where they are.

I became a mom by adoption. I became a mom after falling in love with a woman and deciding to co-parent with her. I did not give birth to my daughter.

When I started part-time with HealthConnect One, I wanted to be home with my growing girl, but I needed a job. The work environment was creative, respectful, kind, and perfect for a new mom. Never mind that I had a colleague recommending from Day One that I breastfeed my daughter immediately, at 2-1/2 years old when I had no breast milk, nor had I ever produced breast milk, and my daughter was on solid foods. Never mind that. I began as a data entry clerk with a background in therapeutic recreation, LGBT civil rights and an undergraduate degree in theatre arts, and I never intended to stay, because so much of our work is outside my own experience, and yet…

My daughter is ten now, and here I am. Still. Thriving.

Once I felt ready for a full-time job, a job that might become a career, I sent out resumes and set-up interviews during my days off work. I stayed quiet about my search, but it was only a few weeks before our Executive Director called me into her office and asked: “What would you like to do?”

I’ve come to learn that Rachel has a knack for asking the questions which lead a person to discover something new.

I have come to learn that’s the HealthConnect One Way.

What would I like to do?

Write. Create. Address inequities. Stand in solidarity with people I respect. Use my race and class privilege for the greater good. Learn. Earn enough to keep my family drifting along in the direction we’d begun to go.

I don’t remember which of these answers I gave Rachel at the time, but she was intrigued. And so was I. So I stayed awhile longer, emerged from my data entry bubble, and began discovering new ways to put my skills and talents and passion to use.

I tried. And I struggled. And I listened… knowing, always knowing this was not my world, but hoping still, I might be useful.

Ever so slowly, I began to understand where I fit. Sometimes it was okay with me and sometimes it was not. Sometimes I was able to take a stand or move into new territory, and sometimes I just sat tight.

Every time I moved a muscle, I learned something new. Every time I stilled myself, I learned something new.

I became angry and frustrated and elated and proud and I felt like part of a team. It was stunning. This is what it is to work across race and class lines. This is how it feels to begin to understand.

This is how it’s been for me.

Now I stay because I am still learning – not just how to be an online marketer, or a non-profit storyteller, a social media manager, or a website content creator – not just that – no, bigger than that. I am learning what it means to listen. To be humble. To sit in a room with my peers and understand who we are to each other. To support – truly support – one another as we grow.

~ RoiAnn Phillips, HealthConnect One Communications Manager

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Map Your Journey - invitation

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