June is often a bittersweet month for us here at ACA headquarters. While it means we are one month away from starting a new program year, it also means that we must say farewell to an amazing cadre of volunteer leaders who have worked so hard over the past 12 months.
Leading our volunteer efforts this year was Dr. Simone Lambert. During her tenure, she proved that she possesses great listening skills, was respectful of her counterparts in related organizations, continued to explore how ACA could help new and emerging professional counselors, and exhibited both warmth and graciousness with our staff.
Honestly, you just never know what a new president will be like. However, you truly get a sense of how the person operates during the 12 months that she (or he) serves in this office. You also get to witness the person’s true passion for the counseling profession. President Lambert has been no exception, and I have been honored to serve alongside her during the past year.
We also say goodbye to many outstanding volunteers who served on the ACA Governing Council, our committees or our task forces. In addition, there are many individuals who work tirelessly for their divisions, regions or branches every year. I do hope that all who served in a volunteer capacity will know how much ACA appreciates you.
The “sweet” part of June revolves around the excitement of bringing on many new volunteers. ACA has a vast number of slots reserved for volunteers, and we look forward to helping you in your new roles.
I also want readers to know that ACA will be organizing its 11th annual Institute for Leadership Training this year (July 15-18) in Alexandria, Virginia, and on Capitol Hill. Our plan is to provide more tools for attendees in keeping with ACA President-elect Heather Trepal’s emphasis on advocacy. I can’t think of a better area on which to focus given all that we read and hear about at the state and national levels of government.
Bringing somewhere between 125 and 150 professional counselors and counselor educators to visit with their U.S. senators and representatives should have a great impact on the policies at the heart of ACA’s legislative agenda. We also want to ensure that our public policy efforts have a strong grassroots strategy. For example, while some of your colleagues will be on Capitol Hill advocating for the profession, students and clients, perhaps you might like to organize a similar event (or some effort that shines a light on professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate students) in your own state.
This statement may seem biased since I work for ACA, but I truly believe that the work of professional counselors has rarely (if ever) been more needed. Whether we’re talking about the tragic school shootings in Colorado and North Carolina last month, the famine in South Sudan, or the global crisis involving opioid addiction, many professional counselors possess the training, experience and knowledge to make a huge difference in the lives of those impacted by human-caused and natural disasters.
I call on all of you to do what you can. You don’t necessarily have to fly off to another country for four weeks to address a humanitarian concern. Rather, just take a pen and a piece of paper and write down a list of concerns you feel are negatively affecting the lives of clients, students or others. Now, flip over that paper and “chunk down” what you think needs to be done. Mark an asterisk next to the tasks you think you might be able to help with. Finally, identify what you are willing to do over the next 12 months to address the issues on your sheet of paper. This commitment doesn’t need to take all of your time or money, but it should guide you in determining what you might be able to do.
I look forward to hearing what you will do in 2019-2020 to address the concerns you have written down. It might be something that has a direct effect on a population, or it might be something a bit more tangential yet still have a major impact on righting wrongs.
Hundreds of ACA members, led by President Simone Lambert, recognized a need and chose to participate in volunteer activities this year. This highly regarded cadre of individuals committed their time and effort to addressing various concerns. We thank each of them.
I hope you will consider participating in ACA this year as a volunteer, as a conference attendee, or simply as an informed and educated member (because that is also quite powerful).