By Billie Wade, Guest Writer
I am always fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes of an event or a planned gathering, most of which rely heavily on the organization and coordination of several parts. Sometimes one person manages the event, and other events require a massive amount of people.
The 2018 Iowa State Fair is set to draw a crowd of over one million people from all over the world. Attendance for 2017 was 1,130,017. The paid staff of sixty people swells to 1,600 during the Fair’s ten-day run. Dubbed one of the best state fairs in the country, the Iowa State Fair is an annual opportunity to celebrate Iowa’s unique heritage and culture.
Every year, whether I attend the Fair, I pause to consider the inner workings. What does it take to get a pork chop on a stick into a Fair-goer’s hand? What does it take to get an animal into competition or the Animal Learning Center? What must happen to set up a ride? I think of coordination, synchronization, fortitude, and an unwavering belief in the tenets of the Fair’s mission statement: “To celebrate Iowa’s heritage by providing a quality environment and facilities to further education and to offer entertainment and competition for all ages.” Every individual is a part of the experience that attracts visitors year after year. The sights. The sounds. The smells. The thrills. Whatever you love about the Fair, be sure to head out for ten days of fun.
I have a deep appreciation for everyone involved in organizing the Fair. It is an exercise in collaboration and precision. My favorites are corn dogs, funnel cake, and fresh lemonade that is perfectly tart-sweet. When I was eleven years old, my mother and I had the frightening pleasure of being stopped at the top of the Double Ferris Wheel at night. We could see the Grandstand in the distance. After that, I was never able to get my mother onto the ride again. The last year for the ride was 2016.
Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is a lot like the Iowa State Fair, serving the Des Moines metro area’s need for comprehensive mental health and spiritual services. Like the Fair, the Center operates with collaboration, synchronization, and precision. Also, like the Fair, the Center grows every year to meet the ever-changing challenges of the community. A look behind the scenes reveals a lot of logistics. What does it take to get a client into a clinician’s office? What does it take to create and hold a class or training? What does it take, financially, to keep the Center’s doors open and the lights on? As a client, what goes on in the background is invisible and seamless to me. Here, again, I am reminded of coordination, fortitude, and an unwavering belief in the tenets of the Center’s mission statement: “To bring understanding, hope, and healing to people of all ages through counseling and education,” The Center operates with a synergy of twenty-eight clinicians plus administrative staff, Board members, volunteers, and donors. In 2017, the Center served more than 5,800 people included a total of 19,344 counseling sessions, 2,532 sessions of psychiatry, and 448 sessions of spiritual direction.
In addition to counseling for adults, you may be surprised to learn that the Center offers a holistic approach to mental health and well-being for adolescents and children, women’s and men’s programs, spiritual direction supervision, pastoral training, community education, and an array of classes. The Center now offers Spanish-speaking options at the front desk and in counseling sessions. Additionally, the Center opened a satellite office in the Drake University neighborhood to serve the needs of refugees. The Center makes the work appear effortless.
Years have passed since I last attended the Iowa State Fair. Many sights, sounds, smells, and adventures have been added while others no longer exist. For people who love it—I have friends who visit the Fair several days each year—the allure of the excitement never fades. And the Fair doesn’t disappoint. If an Iowa State Fair visit is in your future, think of me as you enjoy a delectable treat, stroll the over 500 exhibits, and delight in a thrilling ride.
I have experienced Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center over many years and location changes. I have deep respect and gratitude for the Center and everyone who contributes to the sense of peace I feel every time I enter the doors. Everyone I encounter is friendly and gracious and helpful. Because of each one of them fulfilling the mission, the Center is a beacon, an extraordinary and steadfast respite for all who seek consolation and guidance. As you enter the doors of the Center, may you find healing, hope, and solace whatever your circumstances may be. May the Center’s mission be with you on your life journey.