Never have I started an alert writing “Dear Friends” with more heartfelt truth.
I have been here at the California Council of Churches and Church IMPACT for 17 years as of next Tuesday, January 15, 2019. During those years, we have waded the deep waters of budget crises, of health care reform, of fighting for racial justice and for immigrant rights, for full equality for women, justice for our Muslim neighbors, for LGBTQ brothers and sisters, for honest government, fair redistricting, and meaningful elections among many other issues.
Occasionally I still meet staff members at the Capitol with whom I’ve never worked. They all know who we are. Why? Because our organizational voice is amplified millions of times over by you. I discovered fairly early in my tenure here that when I’d send out alerts, you’d take action in your district about which I often didn’t even know for months. Legislators heard from you, and it made my presence meaningful. Without you I’m just one person. With you we are legend!
However, after all these wonderful years with you, it is now time for me to move on.
At the risk of sounding like a discredited politician, I really do want to “spend more time with my family”. I have terminated my lobby registration and am cleaning out my incredibly messy desk. I have 17 years’ worth of calendars to save or throw away - can’t make up my mind – a lifetime of work, joy, frustration, fury, happiness, and accomplishment. If the paper gets recycled, the memories will stay. They are mostly about all of you.
I want to wake up without an alarm for a time, and I want to garden (I’m bad at it), cook things slowly instead of in a rush, read more, play the piano again, and go back to the Y to take classes that are always in the daytime hours. i want to find out if the "Churchlady" can Zumba.
I will also take time to listen to my inner spiritual self about what are my “next steps”.
I will miss all of you, friends through virtual reality and face-to-face. I am in awe of your creativity, your dedication to justice, your kindness. Your energies, devotion to advocacy and activism, your insights, and your love, humor, and wisdom have sustained me every step of the way.
This is adieu not good-bye. After a breathing period, I will write for our Blog and help with grant proposals, but we will have to rely mostly on you to “speak truth to power”. I will still have my email address for now and will answer questions, which I can do from home, so that you can take action, call for accounting, and move issues with clarity and authority.
We have every faith in you. You have worked wonders and given comfort to those who cannot speak for themselves. You have made California and America a better place. It has been my honor to work with you all these many years. You are all truly in my heart.
Elizabeth Sholes, Director of Public Policy