“Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied.” -George Washington Carver
January 2017 – I am so grateful to begin work here at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center. I thank those I have already met for the many ways you have welcomed me to this talented place. One of my first steps in taking on my new role is to listen to the wisdom of the community. I am meeting with staff, board members, donors and various constituencies in the community who have a stake in our success. I have also been privileged to have a good bit of time with Ellery before his official retirement.
All of these rich conversations reminded me of the above Carver quote. He is near the top of my pantheon of influences for a number of reasons. First, he attended Simpson College and Iowa State University, my most recent places of employment. Next, his steadfast hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, which was based in a vision of potential and opportunity rather than despair. Finally, he was a person of action. In another famous quote, he states: “No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”
As we begin the next chapter of the inspiring history of the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, my heart is filled with gratitude. Let me borrow Carver’s quote to explain why:
Start where you are…
The Center began in April, 1972—nearly 45 years ago. The leadership and commitment of all involved in this work is truly inspiring. What began as a simple idea at First United Methodist Church and the vision of Dr. Ray Martin, has blossomed into this wonderful organization that brings hope and healing into the lives of so many. I have the privilege of following a man of many gifts, Ellery Duke. As the board put it in the search process, it’s a vibrant organization, so don’t break it! No pressure.
with what you have.
My life has been filled with blessings and generous people, beginning with my family. My retired parents passed along the gifts of faith and core values which have served me well. Dad was a mechanic and Mom a school teacher. They taught us the value of hard work and the potential for education to make for a fulfilled life. I took that to heart in my studies. As my dean at Simpson once said, “Jim has more degrees than a thermometer.” I am most proud of the instilled value to serve others and seek justice. It is one of the reasons I made the move to the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center. I am inspired by the commitment made at all levels of this institution to make sure that quality services are available to anyone seeking hope and healing.
Make something of it and never be satisfied.
I look forward to meeting folks throughout our service region to better understand how the Center is already in a position of strength, but also to think strategically about how to marshal our resources in such a way that we can make an even bigger impact on the people and places touched by brokenness or despair. Healing and hope are as needed today as they have ever been. George Washington Carver understood that. I am excited to take on my new role at DMPCC to join all of you in sharing in this important mission.