First of all, we would like to thank Leadership Napa Valley, its volunteers, and Mayor Jill Techel for arranging health and human services day (HHS). We were really surprised by the numbers of employees who took on the task of mentoring each and every one of us for the day.
These mentors occupy a much needed but much underappreciated role in our community. One of our mentors, Gianna Thompson, is a certified MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist). Her daily routine includes visiting individuals in public housing who are suffering from various mental disorders, including alcoholism and depression. She was nice enough to take one of us along with her while she paid visits to her clients. They were happy to see her; on most days, she is likely their only social contact.
Aside from being able to see clients, we visited the new senior daytime activity center on Jefferson Street, by Imola Street. We were surprised by the number of senior citizens who spent their afternoons there. Many of them could not afford full time senior care and therefore spent their time at the center, under professional supervision with various planned activities to help pass the time.
Ironically, after seeing so many good deeds, we felt saddened by what we saw. Perhaps because happiness and sadness are relative. What we saw and deemed depressing others find comforting or enjoyable. It reminded us that without these programs and living arrangements, which appeared to us seemed dreary, these individuals would be living under much poorer circumstances, or maybe not living at all.
In terms of leadership, we learned that one does not have to be an elected official, a powerful person, or even well-known to make a difference in someone’s life and to inspire others to action. We consider the mentors and others at HHS to be notable leaders in our community, despite their relative anonymity. Their decision to work for the public instead of going into private practice is the purest example of dedication and sacrifice for the benefit of others. All leaders should put others first, just like our friends and fellows at HHS.
All in all, the day was a very humbling experience for both of us.
Submitted by members of Class 30.