A flurry of activity has taken place these past several months around your national ACA headquarters. I can remember in the “old days” when there was a bit of a lull for a few weeks after the annual conference. That was good because it allowed staff, leaders and members to take a deep breath, get organized and then prepare for the next project. But that was then.
As some of you know, after more than 30 years in the same location, ACA moved its headquarters to a building just down the block. Despite the short distance involved, this was a monumental task, requiring the concerted effort of all 60-plus staff members, as well as project managers, technology wizards and professional movers. Although the move was completed in November, we have continued to build, fix, assemble and “nest” in our new space. This past month, we finally had an official ribbon-cutting that included ACA President Robert Smith and the mayor of Alexandria.
This month, ACA launches its first Asia Pacific conference in Singapore, but it has been in the planning stages for several months. Although we won’t achieve nearly the number of attendees that we have for the ACA annual conference, the effort required to organize and work with those who live 12 time zones away has been both interesting and challenging.
In the midst of all of this, ACA has been very active on Capitol Hill, seeking to have licensed professional counselors included as independent practitioners under TRICARE (see p. 10). In addition, our advocacy on behalf of the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Programs resulted in having funding restored after being threatened with zero dollars. While this was occurring on the federal level, our grass-roots and state legislative staffers were busy with various states’ “religious freedom restoration” bills and legislation concerning reparative “therapy” for minors.
Sometimes in life, things happen that can’t really be explained, yet they seem so prophetic. For instance, in the rush to get so much done, I found myself running over to the little deli near our office to grab something for lunch. I happened to buy one of those drinks that has some type of saying under the bottle cap. When I unscrewed the cap, there was only one word — RELAX. Was someone trying to tell me something or, given all that was happening, was it just a cruel joke? My thinking is that whatever the explanation, that bottle cap is a keeper.
Too often in our daily activities, we simply do not take the time to find a relaxing moment. I know I am preaching to the choir on this topic, but I strongly suggest that you follow the advice on my bottle cap. With the important work that all of you do, it is critical that you make the time to relax, recharge and reenergize. I hope you will remind your colleagues to do the same.
One example of this took place during the ribbon-cutting that I mentioned earlier. In my brief remarks, I said, “One last very special group of people I want to acknowledge are members of the ACA family who are in that esteemed category of being former or retired employees. The fact that so many of you are here today speaks volumes about your connection with the association. I thank you for joining us today, and I say, ‘Welcome home.’” Seeing so many of these former employees moved me and reminded me of the specialness of ACA. And that made me relax.