A Letter from Julie upon Her Retirement, October 2017

“Follow your passion. It will lead you to your purpose.” –Oprah Winfrey

One of my most memorable days was when I received a phone call from Dorothy Keenan, Senior Services Director; she called to offer me the Director position at Hollin Hall Senior Center. That was 16 ½ years ago.

Flash forward to now. I have been reflecting on my experiences with Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS). The position of Director at HHSC has afforded me the opportunity to connect with some amazing people at the center, within our Mount Vernon community and community at large. How amazing we all are! How many gifts and wisdom we have shared with one another! What an amazing center YOU have created.

But as many of my retired friends tell me, “You know when it is time to move on.” Derek Walcott, one of my favorite poets, says,

“The time will come when with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome….
Feast on your life”

Yes, it is time to ‘feast on my life” but not without sharing with you that I have discovered, through my experiences in this position, my future purpose and passion. In March, I had the good fortune to hear Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, as the key note speaker at an Americans for the Arts, Nancy Hanks lecture on the Arts. He spoke of, “The Art of Democracy-Creative Expression and American Greatness”. He grew up in rural Texas and by chance, stumbled upon the arts. To quote, “…the chances of my exposure to the arts were so improbable that I really should not be here with you tonight. And I imagine each of you can name a time when the arts changed your life, or your perspective—a moment when the arts moved you to empathy or to action; a moment when art made it possible for you to be the person you are today.” So, this will be my next endeavor- to touch the lives of those who may not have access to the arts.

Please know that you have an amazingly strong Advisory Council led by our very own volunteer, Veronica Cartier-my ‘energizer bunny”. I cannot say enough great things about the HHSC Staff. I couldn’t do what I do without their hard work and devotion to the cause: LaMond Averett, Becky Bilowus, Patricia Bruch, Veronica Cartier, Edna Rogers, Jennifer Smith, Joan Watkins and Servicesource staff—Taylor and Diana…. Oh and my Supervisors, LaTishma Walters and Pallas Washington-you have been a true inspiration to me. Laughter was our therapy for sure!

Keep on keepin’ on—Live-Love-Laugh, create, sing, dance, play music, PLAY, enjoy music

DIG in and know that you are part of the whole here at HHSC. Thanks for the memories! I will treasure them!

Come join me in a farewell afternoon, Thursday, October 12,
in Room 112 from 1-3 p.m.

Yours Truly, Julie Ellis, Director, HHSC