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Give & Take: Power of Perspective

Catherine Adams

Every winter, Prosek Partners participates in local non-profit New York Cares’ Winter Wishes program, which provides holiday toys and gifts for tens of thousands of children, teens and seniors in need at participating partner agencies across the five boroughs, by sponsoring 40 wishes that are sent to and fulfilled by Prosek team members. This is a highlight of the year for many of us, who value the opportunity to give back to the community, and I was inspired to volunteer to organize this year’s effort.

I originally volunteered because I wanted to becomemore involved with Winter Wishes at the ground level. And, I’m glad I did because I ended up learning a lot from the process, including how to manage surprisingly large-scale projects and the power of perspective.  

Getting the project off the ground was relatively simple, and our Prosekians were more than happy to sponsor a wish. My inbox was quickly flooded with well over 40 volunteers asking to participate. The pings from my inbox mimicked the chorus of Jingle Bells as my colleagues got in the holiday giving spirit.

The trickier part was organizing the actual wish fulfilment, which included coordinating the delivery of the wishes, tracking who was responsible for which gift, making sure all 40 gifts arrived on time, throwing a gift-wrapping party, and arranging delivery for the gifts to New York Cares. I also had to combat Cyber Monday, which caused delays in delivery that threatened the deadline. The spreadsheets were so elaborate and carefully color-coded that they made my computer look like a child had highlighted my monitor in every shade known to man – van Gogh would have been proud.

When organizing a large-scale gift giving project in less than one month, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the logistics (no pun intended) and lose sight of the bigger picture. And at times, I did become consumed and overwhelmed by the details. But I learned that, while staying organized and focused is crucial to running such a large-scale project, it’s just as important to focus on the importance of what we’re trying to achieve.  

The massive envelope I received with the wishes inside brought me back to the childhood excitement I once felt when receiving mail, back before the bills and spam and jury duty orders. Each wish was hand-written, covered in glitter and drawings, and highlighted their hobbies, favorite school subjects and gift wishes. Reading through each one, I was given the perspective I needed to take a step back from the logistics of the project and consider why I volunteered to be a project manager in the first place.

And it wasn’t just me – as I distributed the wishes to the volunteers, I saw my colleagues struck with the importance of their donation and was taken aback by how everyone seemed to go that extra step to deliver the best possible gifts. Even as I am walking through the office today, after the new year, I am still seeing wishes posted on peoples’ desks, serving as a constant reminder of the value in giving back.

The holiday season is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for and give back to our friends, family and community. Organizing this kind of event may be more complex than a quick donation, but that shouldn’t stop us from taking them on. With this in mind, my New Year’s resolution is to continue becoming more active in my community and finding ways to go that extra step to help make 2019 a better year all around.

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