By Janice O'Rourke, MPA, RD
October 16, 2017
I remember the October day 10 years ago when I walked into The Milk Bank and discovered that our first audit was starting on Monday, two working days away, and nothing had been done to prepare for it. That was my main introduction to this little organization with five staff, 1500 square feet of space in an old doctor’s office, and a few ordering hospitals and grants to keep us solvent. It was a tough way to get my feet wet as a first-time nonprofit Executive Director, but I survived. And learned. I learned so many things; things that my management, nonprofit, and philanthropy classes had never taught me. But I suppose that’s to be expected. This is the real world.
One thing I have come to realize is that I have a dream job. I have been so fortunate to be a part of The Milk Bank as it grew from a toddler to a teenager to a full-fledged adult organization. To see the passion of the Board members and the staff. To watch The Milk Bank outgrow our space, twice, and continue to add more staff into diverse roles. And to see my role change from pasteurizing and packing milk, to being the person that gets to guide the vision. With a lot of help.
I heard in a seminar the other day that leading nonprofits is a joy. Joy is what I see, every day, in the donors that selflessly send their milk to us; in the pasteurization staff that works to pasteurize that milk and send it to the tiny, fragile babies; in the clinical staff that helps moms through the process of becoming a milk donor; in the community engagement staff that spreads the word and work of The Milk Bank within the community so we can continue our journey; and, yes, in the fiscal and administrative staff that make sure we are not two days away from an audit with nothing done. It’s really an honor to see and feel that joy every day.
So to all of you: staff, Board members, donors, and supporters of The Milk Bank everywhere, I say thank you. For all that you’ve done for The Milk Bank, and all that you’ve done to help me in the past 10 years. I look forward to seeing what The Milk Bank looks like 10 years from now. Because I know that it will continue to grow, prosper, and help those NICU babies. With or without me, it will survive and thrive.