Including the valuable experience in the field we have had a core team of three with over 40 years of involvement in Solidarity Volunteering. Expressed as a fraction we will be without 25% of that experience from November 5th this year. However, the fraction does not express what will be missed.
With a willingness to turn his open palm to almost anything, Brendan has been very easy to work with. The position of Assistant Director was created, not because the organisation thought it needed one, but because he was exactly that. His intelligence, range of skills, attributes, loyal and willing attitude and philosophical consistency meant that ultimate confidence existed in any contribution he would make across all areas of the organisation’s work.
Yes everyone is replaceable; however it is doubtful we will be able to replace Brendan with someone able to immediately make the same broad range of contributions. To pick up all of the tasks he has undertaken we will look to many, some currently on staff (or returning after maternity leave) some volunteers and ultimately a new staff member. My studies in organisational development tell me that this can also be an opportunity for new beginnings, but, acknowledging someone as important as Brendan has been to Palms, is part of what a learning organisation must do to embrace a new era.
It is a cliché we often use after a death, but in many ways we should not be sorry to see Brendan moving on, rather be glad that he has given so much. He gave example to what could be done in so many areas that our horizons of what we should expect to achieve are larger. And, I know from my own experience in embracing another position, in a place that works a little differently, it will provide renewal for him, not to mention a better income package.
So, all the best to you, Brendan. Brendan’s new position at Caritas Australia is still very much concerned with human development. He will continue to “facilitate, and be open to mutual formation and inspiration, by advancing the awareness, enthusiasm and involvement of Australian and international communities in shared action to achieve just, sustainable, and peaceful development.” His new experience will strengthen him and, given my certainty that Brendan is committed to Palms’ principles, I know that he is not dead to Solidarity Volunteering. With a couple of Directors who have been employed by Palms we have evidence that his new experience has the potential to make an even greater contribution, at one level or another, from the moment it begins, and well into the future.
Duncan Maclaren sums it up in a note to Brendan after hearing the news:
“Your contribution has been immense to the agency over the years and that legacy will remain. … Your talent was obvious, frankly, from the first time Liz introduced us in the café in Glebe and this is an organic move for you. I wish you the very best for the future and in educating Caritas Australia in the Palms philosophy.”