Life throws many curveballs in our paths. Even when we think we have it all together, and life is going according to plan, we can easily get knocked off course. Sometimes it never feels like we’re even on a path, but rather we’re on an unmarked path, scrambling through briars, falling down unexpected cliffs, or crawling up slippery slopes. I’ve been in both those places, but mostly I’ve felt like I was on an unmarked path that didn’t seem to be going anywhere. I’ve faced the death of my brother in 1988, and then my sister in 2005. I celebrated the birth of my oldest son in 2004, and my younger son in 2006. I chose to separate from my husband at Christmas 2009, for the second and final time, ending years of intimate partner abuse. As a single parent, without much support from my ex, I worked through my children’s diagnoses of ADHD, Autism, and other issues. I homeschooled them through many difficult and lonely years. However, throughout those hard times, I discovered abilities, and developed skills which began to set me up for success, even though I didn’t realize it.
In 2010, after my marriage ended, I looked for and found support for my sons and myself through Cornerstone of Hope. As we attended the programs, I found the programs began to teach my sons emotional language and intelligence, while providing a place to rebuild our community. We found families who understood what we were going through, and I found a place I could give back. We didn’t have much money, so I began volunteering. As I stepped into the HeartZone and TeensThrive programs, I also learned more about my own healing process. We focused on the grief process, discussed forgiveness, and found new hope. We talked about the circumstance’s life throws at us, and how to navigate them. We played, and learned how to talk about our hurts and express them in ways that make us feel seen and heard. As I became more and more involved with Cornerstone of Hope, I began working with the adults, sharing our stories and hearts with each other. As I grew in my own personal healing and self-discovery, I joined the Board of Directors and sought more ways to help others. In 2017, when the founders gave notice of retirement and we started looking for their replacements, I never even considered that I might be qualified for the job. I had always allowed my lack of a bachelor’s degree to hold me back, thinking I couldn’t succeed without a post-secondary education. I continued working with the board, facilitating groups, and assisting with our annual camp. We kept looking for a new CEO.
In the spring of 2019, I was talking with a dear friend and mentioned that she would be perfect for the position, if she lived in Canada. She replied that I would actually be perfect for the job. I hadn’t even considered myself for the position. I spent some time reflecting, and before I mentioned it to anyone else, another 2 people approached me to suggest I apply. The rest, as they say, is history. In June of 2019, the board hired me to be the new CEO, with training to commence in the fall, after our annual Retreat. Except, life had a few more curveballs for us all. Two weeks after I was offered the position, the then CEO had a terrible accident that left him hospitalized for 3 months and a long recovery after his discharge. I was thrown in the deep end without a life jacket… and then, of course, Covid struck in early 2020, changing how we were able to offer our programs. Covid allowed me to learn the role, to step into the position, to make mistakes and to learn and grow from them. I’m still learning… and making mistakes, but I’m starting to feel more confident in my abilities, to see where I can improve, to dream and set goals for Cornerstone of Hope and for myself. Many of the programs we offer at Cornerstone of Hope, like Boundaries, DivorceCare, GriefShare, HeartZone, and TeensThrive have helped me along the journey. It’s truly amazing how much we can learn about ourselves and find healing when we are helping children and youth through the process. I’ve been studying books by Brené Brown, and much of her work compliments, affirms, and reinforces our work at Cornerstone of Hope. Adding in personal therapy and pursuit of my own emotional healing, recognizing my weaknesses, embracing my strengths and learning to ask for help have set me on a path for success. Through the process, I have learned valuable skills which translate to every area of my life. I’ve had to set boundaries, make hard decisions, and have difficult conversations.
Most importantly, I’ve grown as a person, and as a leader. I have much left to learn, but I’m getting there. When I stand back and look at where my life has come, I’m in awe. Never would I have expected that the challenges, struggles, and setbacks I faced would bring me to a place where I can help others feel less alone as they walk the same journeys. Sometimes all we can do is catch the curveballs and allow them to reset our path.
Meet the Author
Sarah became the Chief Executive Officer in the summer of 2019 and is the go-to person for volunteers, participants, and donors. Sarah joined Cornerstone of Hope with her children as a participant in 2010, and then began serving as a volunteer in 2013. She has facilitated children and adult groups, as well as served on the Board of Directors. As an entrepreneur, legal assistant, and single, homeschooling mom of to special needs teens, she stays busy. Sarah is passionate about advancing the work of Cornerstone of Hope and also maintains a virtual assistant/copywriting business.