This is the story of how I found my people. You know who I’m talking about – the colleagues you learn to lean on when you have questions; the ones who understand when you’re having a bad day because they’ve been there too; the people who celebrate your victories, big AND small; and the people who check in regularly because they care. I believe that relationships make the world go round, and without such friendships, I’d be pretty lost.
It all started with Twitter many moons ago. I had yet to join this form of social media. Had no plans to, in fact. But then I heard about this little thing called #grantchat. At noon eastern on Tuesdays, I could join my fellow grant professionals from across the globe, learn something new, and ask questions of my peers. For an extrovert who was the lone grants administrator of a local government, this sounded too good to be true. I set up my account, quickly discovering that every version of my name was taken, so I settled on @wholewheatgirl – it’s what many of my coworkers called me, all because I have never uttered a curse word. (Type A, goody two-shoes – just call me the ultimate rule follower, in grants and life!)
Over the weeks I began to recognize many handles, particularly those who brought up books and reading. Before long, I started to chat with a few of these folks over email. One even mailed me a copy of a favorite book. (Clearly, we were destined to be friends.) Before long, books and reading became a common discission point. And then one day it happened, we all attended a Grant Professionals Association conference and met IRL. (That’s In Real Life for those who don’t pay attention to such things.)
After multiple days of learning, networking, and talking all things grants and reading, I quickly realized that if these lovely and talented women lived in my community, I’d ask them to join my local book club. But alas, we were scattered across the country. Thankfully, the youngest of the bunch was quick to jump on the virtual bandwagon (this was many years pre-pandemic y’all), and she invited us to our first Skype book club. The membership was capped at 10, because that was all the platform could handle. Thus, the Grant Pro Book Club was born. Each month we each take a turn selecting a book, and we spend an hour talking about the book – who listened on audio versus read the words on the page, what did we think about the main character, what would we have done in a similar circumstance, and so on and so forth.
We started out as 10 women who loved reading and all happened to be grant professionals, but over the years, this group has turned into the most incredible sounding board, support group, source of encouragement, and sharer of the funniest memes. Our group text is a lifeline. One member is obsessed with the weather radar and is always quick to check on everyone during stormy seasons. Another is always the first to text when breaking news has occurred. As I am typing this, I learned about Queen Elizabeth’s passing from that group text.
Yes, many of us met one another thanks to our shared grant profession, but it was a love of reading that brought us together. Reading takes you to far off places, stirs the imagination, shares different viewpoints, and gives people a shared experience to discuss. It also makes us grant professionals better writers. My Fundraising cohost, Kimberly, is one of my fellow Grant Pro Book Club members, and we share how reading makes us better writers on the latest episode of the podcast: Readers Make Better Writers (podbean.com). In our case, it made us better writers and led us to an incredible group of ladies, whose friendship I wouldn’t trade for all the books in the world! Who knows where reading will take you…
DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 5 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on seasons 1 – 4 and stay up to date on the new season here.
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