His hat is soooooooo the opposite of everything that Gil is! We went sailing on the AJ Meerwald out of Bi-Valve, NJ for a six hour cruise on the Delaware Bay the other day. The day was one that we would have to call 'perfect' - clear, sunny, the right temperatures and the excitement of the expectations of what we might see or do while out on the quiet of the Bay. For one thing, we knew we would be seeing lighthouses that could not be seen from land! Great expectations. For me, as The Photo Schmoozer who likes to 'catch people doing something right', there is always yet another expectation though. I wonder who I will meet and what stories they will have to share. Today was no exception!! Well, ok I admit that I can find stories everyday!! As we were waiting to get on the boat, I saw three people sitting on the bench on the dock. Later, I happened to be sitting next to the female of the group - she had forgotten her seasick medicine so we were just being still together. Soon, she was joined by Gil, her fiance, and Curtis, Gil's little brother from the Big Brothers program. It's Gil I want to affirm because he is so opposite of the hat he was wearing - see the saying on the collage?? "The beatings will continue until morale improves". No way was that him!! First, I have to say, I watched him with Curtis and you could see a caring connection between the two. Turns out they have a 5 year history together. When Gil comes aboard the AJ Meerwald as a volunteer, Curtis is right there with him, working by his side hoisting the sails, taking pictures, or snoozing on the deck!As we talked, I asked Gil what he did. He shared that he is Executive Director of a Community Health Care agency in South Jersey. I was wearing my DARE to AFFIRM shirt, so we talked about what that was and then Gil began to share his philosophies as the leader of his program. The first thing I have to share is THAT HE REALLY LISTENS!! People talk about an 'open door policy', but his truly is. He goes to staff meetings, meets with all of his managers weekly, and nips problems in the bud by encouraing everyone to be involved in solving them together. I asked if he had always been such an affirming individual? He didn't answer right away, but after reflection, we came together a bit later for another conversation. His experiences in Peace Corp and his degree in Cultural Anthropology plus the wisdom he has gained from life, are some of the other puzzle pieces that make Gil open to people, cultures, values and beliefs. He respects them and in turn, engenders so much respect from all of the employees at the 20+ clinics that serve the working poor. He is amazing; his staff recognize him as such, and his fiance', Betty, loves to spend her time validating him as well! I learned almost as much from her as from him!! Yes, we saw the lighthouses and I came home with some photographs of them, but the experience of meeting Gil, Curtis and Betty was a special event of the cruise.
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