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LATO’s First Intern Retreat 2017

On June 10, 2017, LATO held its first retreat for its interns. The official purpose of the retreat was planning, development and team building, which for the interns translated into getting to know one another and me better. Our three interns, Shesheena B., Samiryha W. and Sue Ellen Z., had already spent considerable time creating a bond of friendship, during and after completing a Master’s in Counseling at the University of Pennsylvania, a little over a year ago. They approached me about volunteering for LATO after I spoke to their class about complex trauma, and became LATO’s first interns late last summer. Since then, their commitment to LATO and the work of the organization has been nothing short of outstanding. Their first major project was to take a lead role in the mapping out of a program for the LATO Teen Prevention Project PSA contest. The contest invited Philadelphia high school students to create a public service announce to stop sex trafficking. It was sponsored by Pediatric Therapeutic Services, Inc., and on Thursday, June 8, 2017, in a room on the 34th floor of the Mellon Building, overlooking Philadelphia, compliments of Ballard and Spahr, LLP., we celebrated the LATO Teen Prevention Project, and viewed the teens' creative and thoughtful PSAs. We presented them with their prize money, which made them, and us, very happy. As intended, the retreat met our collective agenda. We took deep breaths, literally and figuratively, relaxed into our tasks, and embraced LATO’s vision. We dreamed out loud. It was a good day for stepping back and assessing and planning next steps, and continuing to build an organizational culture that takes care of its own, while it takes care of the needs of others. For me the best part of the retreat were the ice breakers. We began the retreat by making refrigerator magnets; tapping into our creative energies, trusting the process. This was Samiryha’s contribution. She’s the artist in the group. She provided us with materials including a range of printed quotes to cut and paste to the magnet. I selected, “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” My magnet has found a permanent place on my refrigerator. I have looked at it everyday since the retreat. It keeps the memory of last week fresh in my mind. And, in the days to come will serve to remind me of LATO’s mission, and the environments we are impacting to protect health and wellness, support productivity and creativity, and encourage growth of in the minds and spirits of our teens and ourselves. 

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