There Is A Silver Lining to Transitions

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director 

Our Family Service Department recently experienced a fairly large transition. Michelle Spada, the Family Services Director was called to serve the world in a different way by pursuing a dream job internationally. As exciting as this opportunity is for her, when someone leaves in such a small organization, it is always a bit difficult – for the staff as well as the families we serve. 

I will be the first to say that transitions are hard. There is the time of uncertainty between the old and new team member. There is the probability that relationships will wane and momentum will be lost and then there is the learning curve that the new team member has to assume. Yes, they are hard…but, I find that sometimes there is a silver lining.


During the two-month search for our next director, I stepped in and performed many of the duties that the family services director usually handles. We sold a home and helped four families achieve home-buyer status for the Bridgeport project currently under construction. What that means is that we are assisting these families accomplish their sweat equity, assigned them addresses and communicated any exciting happenings or changes at the construction site. Admittedly, I thought that my role would be more of a placeholder until Megan, our amazing new director arrived, but it turned out to be a good deal more for me.

As the leader of a growing organization, my role has changed over the last couple of years as we have expanded programming, reached out to new communities and interfaced with lots of different audiences. I don’t always get to be as hands-on as I once was, particularly if we want to keep serving more families in a comprehensive way. I find this change at once exciting and a little sad. I love getting to know each family and their story, as they are all amazing in their own right and so many have overcome such adversity to be in the position of owning a home.

Over the last couple of months though, I have been able to get back to our roots by working with the families who have benefited or will soon benefit from homeownership. I’ve gotten to know them personally, hear their excitement and anxiousness about owning their own home and I’ve been reminded why we do this work. I’ve spoken to them about their plans for their homes, been included in the discussion about who gets which bedroom, been able to connect them with new neighbors and help the families feel that sense of belonging. It has been an honor and a privilege to have such an intimate peak into one of the most important steps in their lives.

It has also helped re-invigorate me in this work. Having been here for four years, I finally feel like I am hitting my stride, but I also get discouraged sometimes when I am reminded that this work is a marathon and not a sprint - I want to cross the finish line already! What I realize from working more closely with our families is that each time Habitat partners with a family, a new finish line is established. It is their finish line, not ours, that sets the pace of the work. Houses become homes by being built with love and the dedication of the family that will occupy them. When they finally move in, they have reached their goal and now it is up to Habitat to start another race.

So, my silver lining in saying good bye to a member of our team and welcoming a new direction to this department is that connecting with the families is not something I am willing to delegate. It is what pushes me and Habitat to do better, build more, and create stable housing situations for all those in need. I am happy to do it and will continue to be part of their transitions to homeownership as long as they let me.