By Michele Hill
If you were to ask my colleagues to describe me in one word, they would use words like funny, outgoing, and sociable, so it may be hard to believe that I am really very shy. I remember as a kid quitting the church choir because I was chosen to sing a solo. The thought of “all eyes” focused on me and the fact that I can’t carry a tune was simply frightening. But despite these worries that continue to plague me even now, I pride myself on building great relationships with those that I work with as well as those that I serve.
When I first enter the doors of Jewish Community Services, I greet each and every person that I come in contact with, with a bright smile and a “good morning” or a “hello.” I carry my smile throughout the day, hoping it brightens the mood of those I see often or those I pass just once. When my workday is done, I make sure to acknowledge anyone I pass with a “have a great evening.”
As I said earlier, I have always been very shy. What I’ve come to learn is, being shy is really not a bad thing. My shyness is actually one of my “Superpowers!” It has helped me to:
- Be a great listener. My colleagues know they can come to me and talk through any problems, issues, or concerns. I’m the official go-to person to vent and I am ready to give assistance when need be.
- Offer a safe space for others. I recall a time when a colleague sought me out for a hug and a smile simply because they were having a bad day. I guess the saying is true: “A smile goes a long way.”
- Provide joy. Although I do not directly work with the individuals that JCS serves; they can always rely on me to stop by with soda & coffee, pick them up for lunch, or talk to them daily on the phone.
- Focus on the golden rule: “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” The persons we serve at JCS love to be celebrated on their birthdays. They can count on me to give them a card and a small token and it really warms my heart when they reciprocate with cards on holidays and my birthday.
So, the next time you see me passing through the halls of JCS … don’t forget to smile (don’t worry, I can see behind your mask) and say “hello!”
Michele Hill is a Program Manager for the Supported Living Program through JCS Support Services for Individuals with Disabilities.
Jewish Community Services (JCS) is dedicated to providing programs and services that help people of all ages and backgrounds achieve their goals and enhance their wellbeing.
To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.