Moving forward. Moving ahead. I was moved. It was a moving experience. Strangely, each of those phrases is apropos to something that will occur to your national headquarters staff next month. After a 30-year run at the office building we have called “home,” ACA will be relocating to a new building that will address the growing concerns we had about our current office.
Our current space has gone through various “build-outs” and changes over the years to continue allowing staff to do the work that supports our members. We have made due with a number of Band-Aid-style changes for several years. Dealing with an elevator in which a number of us (including me) have been stuck has only added to the challenges (some might say “adventures”) we face each and every workday.
So, when our lease runs out, we will be picking up and moving. The good news is that we found a space about a half a block away from our current location. That means those who have a longing to visit the old place can walk over at lunchtime and still take their chances with a ride on the elevator.
But things weren’t always like this. When I arrived as a newly hired staff member back in 1984, the building was only a year old. It was sleek and modern, and the extra space it provided meant we no longer had to store books in a bathtub. Huh? Our headquarters previously had occupied two connected townhouses in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood. Through the years, however, the number of staff and projects had grown so much that by the time we left, books really were stored wherever space could be found.
For you ACA history buffs, the association moved from Washington to an area of Northern Virginia called Bailey’s Crossroads. These offices provided temporary housing while the ACA Foundation bought the land and ACA built its headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, at 5999 Stevenson Ave. (The building was sold several years ago, with ACA remaining as the building’s anchor tenant.)
Those of us who have worked at 5999 Stevenson for so long understand that the move to the new office is critical if we are to continue meeting member needs — and doing so in an environment that supports collaboration across all our departments. The gains in energy efficiency will be significant, and the new physical layout will contribute to staff producing the best possible resources for members.
Still, I find the experience similar to going through drawers at home and realizing that it’s time to finally “retire” (a gentler way of saying throw out) that ratty old T-shirt that exudes comfort and familiarity. As such, I have given great thought to understanding the needs, concerns, hesitations and anxieties of our staff as we begin this migration. Some are “way ready” to move on. Others are a bit more philosophical but understand the need to go. And still others have a bit of trepidation about relocating (even if it is only a half a block away).
As professional counselors and counselor educators, you routinely deal with clients and students who experience various dimensions of transition. You are experts at helping them face the associated challenges. I honor each of you for that work and your ability to provide counsel and support for these individuals, couples, families and other groups.
Our move is more than just packing boxes and installing a new phone system. I see the transition as symbolic of what ACA must do if it is to continue meeting the needs of its members and increasing the public’s (and media’s) awareness of professional counseling. As we look toward creating and providing services for those of you who have been loyal members, we also are “moving” forward to think through how we can best help those professional counselors and counselor educators who will be working into the middle of the 21st century.
Still, I will miss the old place, and I reserve the right to occasionally walk over and ride the elevators.