SSVA turns 24 this year.  Our founder, Kay Reed Mirick, would turn 71 on September 10th.  Ovarian cancer took her physical presence from our helm 13 years ago.  She may no longer be at her desk, keeping a watchful eye on her crew and the seas ahead – but she continues to guide the ship she built after realizing – after years of rocking the boat and making waves – she needed her own vessel to spread her vision.

I joined SSVA’s young and motley crew in January of 1998.  With my degree and a little experience under my belt, new to this country – feeling a bit lost. Kay brought be aboard – telling me she saw something in me that reminded her of her younger self.    She knew there was a role for me that we would figure out later, until then she sent me out to get my sea legs.

I learned from the best – inspired, huge hearted rebels – determined to help some of the most broken and previously forgotten souls to realize their success.  Taking our knocks, thinking on our feet, and celebrating the smallest of successes! I was hooked – and Kay was watching. When she felt I was ready, she began to add responsibilities and provide opportunities for growth.  She was firm but kind – daring and inspiring. She was my mentor.

It’s been 13 years since the passing of the torch at SSVA.   We have weathered rough seas, explored new horizons, and realized many successes.  I carry Kay’s wisdom with me: “Sometimes it is better to be kind than right.” – “Dedicate yourself to a positive and peaceful world.” – “It takes a ripple to make a wave – be that ripple.”

Last week I was surprised and graced by the kind words of a valued crew member that I have had the honor of mentoring.  She boarded this vessel like I did – unsteady but eager. Accepting guidance and opportunities to grow into the exceptional professional that she is today.  Kay’s ripple continues as the waves roll on.