Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Senior Sage Leadership: Interview of Barbara Thomas

Senior Sage Leadership: Interview of Barbara Thomas

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The most meaningful experience in the organization has come from the mentoring I have done with a young girl. Knowing that she won’t end up like her mother is gratifying. In a way, her mother’s passing was a blessing in some respect because she and her brother now have a chance to live a good and productive life. Mentoring the Executive Director has also been satisfying. The ED and I trust one another and work at helping and learning from each another. So overall, my mentoring is the most meaningful thing I have experienced in the organization.

10. I want to ask you four additional questions about your civic life:

What motivates or inspires you to engage in civic activities and causes?

What motivates me to engage in civic activities is the desire to continue building my life and learning from every situation that I can. And part of this is having a life within the community in which I live. My husband and I learned this in spades when we spent a period of time volunteering in another state to work on an important project. Our goal was to engage the state and change the way the people there thought about an important social issue. We learned how to penetrate small towns and large cities and found that getting involved can be very rewarding and satisfying. So being in a community and being involved in it is part of having a whole life. If you’re not involved, your whole life can pass you by. You want to be able to get to our age and be able to say, “What have I done with this life of mine?” “What difference has my life made?” “Is it good enough to have satisfied just myself?” No. A friend used to tell me that if you don’t get involved, you’ll never know the answers to these questions. Just open the door and walk through.

Do you feel that you are sacrificing anything in your life by being deeply involved in our community’s civic organizations?

I don’t feel that I am sacrificing anything important in my life by being engaged in my civic organizations. Yes, there are small irritations—for example, not seeing friends in the Bay Area as often as we’d like because we have commitments here. But that is part of what having a life in our community means. Sure there is lots to do, but somehow it all manages to get done.

What personal benefits do you get from your civic involvements?

With regard to the personal benefits that I receive from my civic engagements, a sense of well-being, a sense of contributing, and a sense of giving back head the list. I really don’t know how my life could be lived without these involvements and commitments. I’ve been doing this stuff since I was a kid and don’t know any other way to function. I  also know something about myself: It’s not what I do or the accolades I receive that counts but who I am, my core being, that feeds me. This is one of my major life learnings.

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