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Blog Post: The Power of Listening

Blog Post: The Power of Listening

Posted March 14, 2014

This blog post is brought to you by Leah Carroll, CEO’s Development Officer. She can be reached via email at lcarroll@ceo-cap.org.

In June 2010, I began my journey with CEO. My first position was as the receptionist at our Joseph L. Bruno Center. I absolutely loved it! Something about being able to connect with our customers really resonated with me. When customers came in I would eagerly listen to their stories, and each story made me want to learn more about our programs and services so I could better assist customers when they walked through the door. I wanted to make sure that every person I came in contact with received everything they needed.

Within the first few days on the job, I encountered a customer whose story profoundly impacted the way I saw our customers.  Anna (not her real name), a mother of two, had just visited CEO’s WIC office and was on her way out of the center. She was dressed in a business suit and for all appearances seemed to be headed off to work.  Upon reaching the front door, Anna paused and asked if I knew of any place where she could get some groceries for her family just for the weekend. She appeared a little flustered and embarrassed, but I didn’t understand why at first. As we chatted, I discovered that Anna was recently let go from her job and was finding it difficult to make ends meet. This was the first time she had to ask for assistance of any kind, and by doing so Anna felt like she had failed her family for not being able to provide for them.  I assured Anna that CEO could help her navigate this temporary situation and the Food Pantry was just one of the services that could benefit her and her family.

Anna’s story expanded my understanding of the people we serve. For a number of our customers, asking and accepting help is difficult when they’ve never had to do so. It’s important to listen to the stories of the people we serve to better understand their situation and help them find their way. Our customers come to view our programs and services for what they really are – a hand up and a way to get back on their feet, while still maintaining their dignity.

My experience is by no means unique. At CEO, our staff take the time to really listen to our customers; it is an integral step in providing the best possible service. Staff know first-hand, what it feels like to help a customer set a goal and help them achieve it, whether it is helping a customer complete high school, get their GED, become financially stable, secure a job, put food on their family’s  table,  etc. We stress the importance of working together with customers so that they reach their goals. Their success is what makes us successful!

My friends and family have asked me why I love CEO so much and the answer is simple – I truly believe in what we do! CEO is so much more than a temporary Band-Aid to a problem. We provide resources, education and support to help those in our community help themselves. It’s about empowering people and giving them the tools to become the solution.

As my knowledge of how crucial CEO’s programs and services are to the community continues to grow, so does my passion and love for who we are and the people we serve. Each position I’ve held at CEO has given me a new perspective on how important our role is to and in the community. Now, as CEO’s Development Officer, I have the opportunity to use my experiences and my passion to shine more light on the amazing work we do here and get people involved in in our mission.

Our staff, board members, volunteers, donors and community partners support our efforts because they realize the tremendous positive impact we have in the community  – This is what CEO strives for each and every day!

On that note, thank you so much for letting me share a little bit about my experience with you. I hope my words have at least made an impression. If you’re interested in scheduling a tour to learn more about CEO and how we are making a difference in the community, please don’t hesitate to contact me at lcarroll@ceo-cap.org. We are always looking for new donors, community partners, and volunteers and we would love to have you join the CEO family.


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