The State of the Union, er, Youth Services Department

Do you get caught up in the goal-oriented, stats-oriented, what-can-we-accomplish-next part of your job? I certainly do, so this past December, I took the Youth Services staff meeting (ahem, party) to the next level, adding in a look back over all the major accomplishments of the past year.

We always have plenty of fun at our December meetings, included a white-elephant gift auction, pot-luck lunch and a Secret Santa-type gift exchange. In 2013, we did a food theme for the gift exchange, but most of us (except for those lucky few, grr!) are watching their weight, so my colleague came up with the idea of socks for 2014. It was awesome—I got peacock feather socks and socks with books on them!

This year was the first of what I hope will be many “let’s celebrate what we have accomplished” themed meetings.

I created an “Annual Report” type document replete with pictures and fun quotes, printed it up big and taped the sheets up around the room. It took me about 3 hours from start to finish, and I wondered along the way whether it was worth it. I wouldn’t have been able to tackle it without the Board Reports I do every month (I knew those would come in handy someday). And I wouldn’t be able to do the Board Reports without the Monthly Updates I ask my staff to submit, which miraculously, they do!

When I had everything interesting and noteworthy culled from the Board Reports all together in a document, I saw that everything fell into these categories:

• Our Space
• Community Partners
• School Partners
• Our Staff
• Program Highlights
• Summer Reading Club Highlights
• Technology Ups & Downs
• Summer Reading Highlights

Here’s a sample of one of the pages:Our SpaceNext year, it might be an electronic slide-show or it might take a different format. But watching my staff as they looked at all we had accomplished this year all together, and remembered things that seemed like they were from ages ago, and pointed things out to each other, made the few hours I spent on it totally worth the effort.

Let us all know what you do to remember and celebrate accomplishments at work!


Shelley Sutherland wrote this piece as a member of the Managing Children’s Services Committee.

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