Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Young Professional With a Purpose

By Lauren S., YES Institute Intern 

I came to YES Institute earlier this year after having been in residential treatment for an eating disorder. I left my life, my career, my family, and my friends in NYC and came down here to seek treatment. I had the opportunity to take a step back, to breathe, and to connect with myself in a deeper and more spiritual way. Then I found YES Institute, a place that fills me with love every time I step through their doors. A place that is making a difference in the lives of our community day in and day out. A place that is preventing suicide on a constant basis. YES Institute has changed my life. I am proud and honored to call myself a ‘Yuppie,’ a member of the YES Institute Young Professionals Society, a supporter of professionalism with a purpose and an investor in the future of YES Institute.

Through my involvement in YES Institute, I have been able to establish a new sense of peace and comfort. I am a gay woman, and for many years this felt ‘wrong,’ and I could not escape the constant shame and guilt cycle associated with this aspect of myself. I hid my true identity for many years and covered it up with destructive behaviors. YES Institute has been instrumental in showing me that I can accept and be true to myself just the way I am. I have found a home here.

Being surrounded by people that are comfortable, confident, passionate, and connected with who they are has ignited something special inside of me. In addition, sharing my story and connecting with others that have gone through similar struggles gives my life new meaning and I am able to step outside of myself and make a difference in ways that only 6 months ago seemed impossible. I am filling myself with a newfound sense of love and compassion.

Becoming a ‘Yuppie,’ ignites a sense of excitement, hope, and passion in me. Making a financial commitment to this organization means more to me than I can describe. It goes far beyond the money. It is another outlet for me and my voice. I have the ability to contribute to a cause and vision that I am passionate about and allow for my voice and enthusiasm to be heard. It means that through my commitment, someone’s life can be changed and I can continue spreading the message of YES Institute and contribute in transforming the future. It is so important for me to give back especially to those places that give so much to me. And YES Institute has done just that. I am excited and grateful to continue on the journey of life and carry my commitment as a 'Yuppie' with me as I do.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Listening Creates a Win/Win On and Off the Court

By Shawnice "Pepper" Wilson, Intern

Shawnice sharing her story at Communication Solutions™

Growing up I was never taught how to communicate effectively with others, especially if their views or opinions conflicted with my own. Whenever a conflict arose in communication, I learned to respond with anger. If that didn’t work, I would keep my mouth shut. I attended the University of Pittsburgh for my first two years of college and was a member of the women’s basketball team. I was named a captain my sophomore year. At 19 years of age, I was expected to lead and unite my teammates, some of whom were several years older than I was. My coaches recognized my potential to lead the team powerfully before I could see it myself. Unfortunately, during that time I was unsure how to lead the team and meet the demands of my coaches. My coaches wanted me to step up and deal with issues that were holding back the team from winning. I was frustrated because I lacked confidence in my ability to improve our team chemistry.

As a captain for a major program, I found it very challenging to lead my fellow teammates. I felt pressure from my coaches to be this perfect leader, and I didn’t think I could do it. I was involved in several conflicts with my teammates and felt like I didn’t receive respect as a captain.  Our frustrations as a team were reflected in our performance on the court. I was not equipped with the communication skills I needed to unite my team, and it was difficult to build the sisterhood needed to be successful.

Three years later I find myself in a similar situation. As a senior member of the University of Miami Women’s basketball team, I was named 1 of 3 captains for the 2012-2013 basketball season. The only difference between now and then is my ability to effectively communicate with my teammates, and I credit my new communication skills to YES Institute. Fall of 2012, I was given the opportunity to participate in their signature course, Communication Solutions™. I realized the importance of communication, and I finally learned tools to communicate effectively.

Recently, I was in a situation with my team where I was able to apply the communication model taught in the course. There was a disagreement between some of the teammates. The following day we met as a team to diffuse the situation. For the first time as a captain, I decided to listen to what my teammates were dealing with instead of coming from a place of who was right and who was wrong. This gave my teammates the space to apologize and forgive each other. As a team, we grew closer from this experience.

I learned so much from the course. Most importantly, I learned how to be with myself and accept the individual staring back at me in the mirror. Accepting who I am allowed me to be with others, thus improving how I communicate with them. I am extremely grateful for my experience at YES Institute and the lessons I took from the course. I can now proudly say I am a better leader and person simply because I learned the importance of communication.