memories of Paul … IN CAPS LOCK !

By Kate Stefanko. Filed in local partners, newsletters, people and places partners  |  
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We’re proud to have worked with Calabash since the very beginning of ‘people and places’ … and as with any strong relationship, our working relationship was based on mutual trust and learning. Needless to say, our years together had occasional moments of misunderstanding or lack of understanding … but our mutual strength developed by our working through such moments TOGETHER.

The projects’ needs are and always will be our starting point. My role in ‘people and places’ involves working closely with each individual volunteer to ensure that their placement is a match to those needs … and that requires prompt exchanges between me and our local partner to provide the volunteer with plenty of information about their placement. I’m the one working ‘at the coal face’, so to speak …

Let me tell you a story …

not a fairy story !

Once upon a time, as I was working with a volunteer towards a ‘schools support’ placement in Port Elizabeth, I wrote to Paul asking for specific information about which school, member(s) of staff, timing of the school day, work schedule etc. (this was years ago, before we’d built our project information & resources to their current levels) …

My first email simply asked the questions to which I needed answers … perfectly polite, sentence case, subject header: ‘questions re volunteer [name]’ … When I hadn’t received a reply from Paul after a week, I forwarded my original email and wrote my header in CAPS LOCK, continuing with my standard polite, sentence case text … several days later, still nothing from Paul.

answers, please ?

I was beginning to be concerned as to what I should say to the volunteer … so fired off another email, this time beginning with DEAR PAUL, I AM BECOMING CONCERNED (all in CAPS LOCK!) followed by each of my questions in BOLD CAPS LOCK.

Please understand, at that point, I was primarily concerned with being able to communicate with our volunteer, but was also wondering if something had happened at Calabash or in the project which may be impacting on Paul’s apparent inability to send the information I needed … or at least to give me some idea of when I may expect it …

So, to cut to the chase, I picked up the phone and called him. What a calm opener … “Hi Paul, good to talk with you – how’s things?” Everything, according to Paul, was fine … so … gradually I admit to having become less restrained and rather more curt, and (Sallie will vouch for this, as she was here in the Faversham office at the time!) my voice was raised to an audio BOLD CAPS LOCK.

At which point, Paul most definitely understood not only that I needed his reply, but also why I needed his reply as a matter of urgency if we weren’t going to lose this particular volunteer !
I had all the information that I needed within 24 hours … so I was able to share news with the volunteer and confirm her placement happiness all round.

And, in the long term … Paul and I joked with each for some time along the lines of …”shall I call you, Paul?” from me … and “no worries” from Paul, followed by a full, open and honest email.

From tiny acorns (sometimes disguised as CAPS LOCK), mighty oak trees grow.

Smiling at this memory as I write … thank you, Paul.

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