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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barschow

A New Chapter Begins

These kiddos and I are 13 years older now. I hope that they all still have these twinkles in their eyes and these smiles on their faces. On this day, we were celebrating the installation of a sport court for the kiddos to more safely and comfortably play basketball and tennis at the (former) South Boys & Girls Club. Mark, Debbie, Michael, Mike, Brian and Erica were a small team making big things happen for kids who needed some extra support getting up and over difficult life circumstances to gain strong footing on their path to success.

About 7 years before this, I was working for the YMCA of Austin, and it was my first experience with the Y's Annual Children's Christmas Party. This festive event was held at the (former) Austin Music Hall. Hundreds of kids were bussed in from all over the city to enjoy games, crafts, activities and a visit w/Mr. & Mrs. Claus. Each child received a wrapped gift that they were welcome to open right then or save for later. I was chatting with a young boy, around 6 or 7 years old. I asked, "Are you going to open your gift today or will you wait for Christmas?" He replied, "I want to wait because I want to have something to open on Christmas in case Santa doesn't make it."

In that "wow" moment of my life, my heart both broke and opened. It was right then that I truly understood the meaning of the work I was being called to do. It was right then that I became both livid at the unfair inequities, loss and suffering of children, and also grateful that there were people and organizations dedicated to doing something about it. I truly was not the same person after that conversation.

I left nonprofit work for a couple of years, only to be called back to it at the end of 2019. I was thrilled to return to the Y at the beginning of 2020. The pandemic hit 3.5 weeks later; nine months later, I was without a job. I won't lament over the details, suffice it to say that the following months were extremely difficult to wrestle with. In that time, though, I came to believe and hold Faith that God's plan is bigger than me, and there was a great sense of peace that the next chapter was coming. And it was going to be worth the wait.

So, now for the exciting news!

I have accepted a position with an AMAZING organization that I cannot wait to tell you all about! On Wed, December 1, I will be the new Director of Development for Seedling Mentors, following my friend Linda Thompson's upcoming retirement. Linda has held this role for the past several years, and I have quite the challenge ahead with big shoes to fill! I am so grateful for and proud of the work Linda and I did together at the Boys & Girls Clubs. I am humbled and honored that she thought to pass her torch to and entrust me to nurture and grow an organization that she loves so much. And, trust me, I have fallen fast in love, too.

Seedling is a school-based mentorship program for kids impacted by parental incarceration. This is the only program like this in the U.S; and I am excited to be a part of changing that, starting with Central Texas! I will be responsible for fundraising, developing corporate and community partnerships, and raising awareness for how people can get involved and support this organization that is making a HUGE impact on the future success of kids who are overcoming some very traumatic and difficult circumstances.

There are so many ways to help. If you're planning your end of year giving, please consider Seedling. If you have 1 hour a week to give your time, consider mentoring a child at a school near you. If you work for or know of a business that might sponsor an event or program, please let me know! If you want to follow this next chapter of my life and learn more about the organization and the difference it is making, follow and share Seedling's Facebook page (be sure to change your notification settings to "Standard" so FB actually shows you posts!) and Instagram.

If you have read this far, it truly means a lot! Stay tuned for updates. Thank you!

P.S. Can anyone else appreciate the serendipity of my journey as a gardener and joining Seedling? 😊 💚 💛

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