Milestones, Revisited 

Milestones, Revisited  | MCI United States | EN

July, 17 2020

By: Erin Fuller

I live two blocks from our local high school. And although it felt theoretical when we moved in 13 years ago, I do now indeed parent a high school student. 
Combine the proximity, said kid, and penchant for volunteering, and it isn’t that surprising that I spent an afternoon in late June wearing a mask and neon safety vest as I directed traffic for the graduation car parade.

We have all spent a lot of time mourning events that have been cancelled, postponed, or irreversibly changed because of the pandemic. Graduations certainly topped that list. Milestones are just that – a fixed point in time – and therefore are ephemeral. There will be no do-overs for key dates or accomplishments that occur during this time – as anyone who has organized a birthday drive-by celebration can attest.

Although I entered my traffic management assignment with a lot of sympathy, I left my stint on a traffic island filled with a lot of hope. Here is why:

  •     A more formal, streamed ceremony – complete with speeches and reading of the names – preceded the parade. This allowed family from all over to join in the festivities, which may have not been as appealing pre-quarantine.
  •     The parade, in some ways, was more rewarding to witness than a graduation ceremony from “before times.” Each car was decorated with the graduate’s name, activities and most noted their post-high school plans. Since the graduates were hanging out of the passenger side windows (local police turned a very blind eye), parents and siblings were in the car too – meaning you got such a nice snapshot of the entire family celebrating.
  •     I realized that these graduates were full of joy and hope and recognition of the unique times during which they are becoming adults. There isn’t a comparison group – only they know this experience. While I may have been mourning this day, thinking of my own graduation party, these kids were excited to finally see their classmates (from a distance) and celebrate their accomplishments.

What does this mean for associations? (You knew I would ask that.)

  •     We should look at the ability to now expand and extend milestone experiences beyond our typical stakeholders. When someone in our associations receives an award or a new designation, we should encourage them to share this experience with a wider audience, professionally and personally. What a great way to show the power of associations, networks and continuing education!
  •     Quarantine has eliminated a lot of formality (u-shaped board tables, the wearing of shoes) and introduced so many glimpses into the personal sphere (kids, pets, bookshelves.) We should figure out how to better appreciate and accentuate these opportunities to learn more about someone beyond their job title or committee assignment.
  •     We need to let go of “the good old days.” That does a disservice to people that go on accomplishing and celebrating things – a key function for associations. Rather, we need to determine new ways to show appreciation and honor success.

As I walked back up my hill (still wearing my vest), I thought forward to my older son’s graduation in 2023. None of us know how we will be celebrating then – but I am already planning how we would decorate our family car.

Erin Fuller is the president of MCI USA Association Solutions and enjoys MCI USA’s Adopt a Highway clean up days largely due to wearing a safety vest.

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Erin Fuller

Erin Fuller leads MCI USA’s team who focus on nonprofit management and consulting, and assesses business development and partnership opportunities that advance MCI’s mission and model while supporting a culture of creating thoughtful growth and strong career pathways.

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