Ajia Collins

Development Manager Ajia Collins on Accepting the Unknown

Jul 7, 2020

*Ajia Collins joined Guild in 2014 as the Development Associate/Volunteer Coordinator. In 2020, she was promoted to Guild’s Development Manager, where she works with the Development team to ensure Guild’s services remain funded for the future. In her free time, Ajia enjoys hiking and watching movies with her dog.

As with most jobs, a role in Development will get you used to an expected routine. We hold our events the same time every year—the Bash4Guild is in the spring; the Ladder of Hope luncheons are in the fall. The rest of the year is spent preparing for these events and taking care of other regular activities. It’s very cyclical, and earlier this year, as I marked my 6th year with Guild, I joked that I knew what I would be doing in March of 2022.

The last three months have completely erased that certainty. Between a global pandemic and both local and national protests sparked by the George Floyd tragedy, I (as with all of you), don’t know what my life will look like even two days from now. As a creature of habit, this does not sit well with me. I thrive under a routine. Without that routine, I find myself searching for other things that I can hold onto and say, “This. This is what I know. This is what I can expect. And this will never change.”

The generosity of our donors has always been clear to us at Guild, but this year, as many individuals face their own uncertainties in terms of health, employment, and financial security, it has struck me how unwavering people are in their support of the work we do. While we struggled with figuring out how to pull off a Bash4Guild in a world where we couldn’t physically be in the same space, we worried about our Youth Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) services, which rely heavily on the funds raised at the Bash. Fortunately, we didn’t have to worry long. Businesses that had pledged to sponsor the Bash generously continued their support. Guests, who should have been dressed to the nines and dancing to live music, watched our video and monitored the silent auction from the safety and comfort of their homes, and donated more than ever.

Another certainty is the dedication of our volunteers. Despite being unable to enjoy their own routines with their client matches, like going to the Como Conservatory, enjoying a cup of coffee at a café, or going to the movies together, they continued to connect with their friends over the phone or on a socially-distanced walk around a lake. Some have taken their time to deliver groceries to individuals who are unable to leave their homes.

As we near the next round of Ladder of Hope events, for the first time in 6 years I wonder what they will look like. Will we be able to sit together in large groups without masks? Will there be enough room for volunteers to socially distance while helping guests find their name tags? There are so many unanswered questions, and I have to allow myself to be okay with that. What I do know is that no matter what the world will look like in November, I know that we have the support of our community, our donors, and our volunteers. And for that I am grateful.