Olivia Hara
Olivia Hara
Planning Assistant - CivicSpark AmeriCorps Member

It's Never Easy to Say Goodbye

This morning, as I was getting ready to come to work, it occurred to me that I haven’t once had a day where I dreaded coming in. Since my job with Sierra Business Council started eight months ago, I have come into the office with a smile on my face and then left at the end of the day in the same mood every day. How many people are lucky enough to say that about the place they work? SBC staff sure can! However, things are changing and tomorrow will be the first time I will dread coming into work, because Friday will be my last day at SBC. I will be sad to leave my new non-profit family as I set sail (or plane) to Swaziland for a two-year term in the Peace Corps.

COMM CivicSparkers 2015 05When I was first assigned to SBC through Americorps I admittedly was a bit snide in how I viewed non-profits. I thought of SBC as one might think of non-profits in general, a group, an idea, and a cause but not much more beyond that; just an organization struggling to stay afloat amidst a sea of similar non-profits with different branding.

This was a great misconception.

SBC in its entirety is much more than an idea with a name and stickers--it is a business. A business in all means other than that whole profit part—and when it comes to the triple bottom line, SBC means business.

This organization is a powerhouse of innovation and is so vast in the number and variety of projects it develops, implements, and supports that it is hard to believe our tiny team does it all. So much of what SBC does goes unrecognized, housing projects and programs that have such a broad range of scope that it’s understandable many admit to not knowing exactly SBC does.

For example; these are the projects SBC is currently working on:

-Climate Planning 
-The Northern Sierra Biomass Initiative 
-Northern Sierra Partnership  
-The Peak Innovation Center 
-Prop 39 Planning and Services
-Rivers and Ranches 
-Sierra Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Partnership (Sierra CAMP) 
-Sierra Nevada Energy Watch
-Sierra Nevada Geotourism 
-The Sierra Small Business Development Center 

This list doesn’t even include past SBC projects, or partnered programs where SBC has played a pivotal role.

Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves though, SBC isn’t just great because of the projects it has implemented across the region, or the impact on the communities they support--I mean certainly that’s all a part of it-- but SBC is great because of the people who comprise it and who make that change happen.

Since my first day on the job it was clear the people who work here are not just people working in the same office, they’re friends and in a funny way a family. It may be cheesy, but it is the only way I can describe the atmosphere at SBC. Having been fresh out of college and not having any real idea of what to expect  of the professional world, I couldn’t be more grateful to have started that experience here. All the staff have been wonderful in encouraging me and fostering my professional growth as I fumble my way through the great new professional world. My Project Manager and SBC’s Government Affairs Director have both been instrumental in providing me with amazing experiences and opportunities to develop my skills.

My Project Manager and SBC’s Government Affairs Director are not alone in making SBC a great organization to work for, every single staff member puts their heart into their work to ensure the success of their projects, to ensure the success of the organization as a whole, and to ensure the success of the region’s communities. And it’s all done with good humor!

The SBC office is the most positive office I’ve been in, from the cheery yellow and green walls to the makeshift standing desks. It’s the mid-day walks, it’s the celebrations (and dance-offs), it’s the lunches we have together and the breakfasts (breakfast burrito Friday, anyone?), and it’s the ever resonating laughter that is the reason I haven’t once in the last eight months dreaded coming to work. This light-heartedness fosters a healthy, happy, and productive environment that nurtures the innovative ideas and projects coming out of this organization.

With my next adventure just around the corner, I’m fast approaching the time to say good-bye and bid farewell to my SBC family. It won’t be easy.

My experience here has been a truly valuable one and I am confident that SBC is going to make waves with their projects--and not the kind that knock you off your paddle board, but the kind that you stand up on and ride. Interested in joining the action? Keep an eye out - I may know of a job opening.

Thanks SBC and bon voyage!