Listening, learning and leveraging from our strengths

Listening, learning and leveraging from our strengths

By Soraya Kassim, Palms Executive Director

It has now been a full month since Roger handed me full Executive Director responsibility for this precious organization, and I am humbled by the opportunity to lead it.   There are so many to whom I owe gratitude: Roger of course for the firm foundations he laid via his leadership for nearly two and a half decades, my colleagues on the staff, volunteer, and Board team for so generously accepting me, and our members, supporters and partners for your welcoming messages of goodwill and encouragement.   I am very much looking forward to being able to meet you over time, as we revive our in-person information ‘discovery’ sessions for Palms. 

For those of you in Brisbane/Toowoomba and Melbourne, I hope to be able to enjoy your company at the end of this month, as we hold information sessions there, with the assistance of some of our returnees, and I meet some of Palms’ key partners in those cities.  Please check our website for details of the information sessions, so that you can promote them to your contacts.  We are also having casual reunion dinners in Melbourne, Toowoomba and Brisbane.  If you would like to join us, please call the office (0422 472 567) or contact Cassandra at [email protected] for details.  I would love to see you there! 

The other major reunion opportunity we have coming up will be our Solidarity Awards evening.  This will be the first major in-person event since the Palms Diamond Anniversary Dinner.  If any of you are able to get to Sydney on Saturday 27 July, please save the date!   

The Palms annual calendar is rapidly filling up as we continue to rebuild the organization post Covid.   This has meant putting as our first priority, the promotion far and wide of the Palms global volunteering opportunities, in order to respond to the requests from our long-standing partners in the Pacific, Asia and Africa.  In addition to the in-person sessions we are running this month, we are hoping to highlight Palms during National Volunteers Week at the end of next month.  If you have any ideas on how we might do that in your city or town, please contact Cassandra or me ([email protected]).   We are always open to new approaches to promote the decades long wisdom of Palms. 

I naturally have a very steep learning curve to climb.  So, the chance to meet you and hear your stories is crucial.  In addition to the stories I will hear in Australia, I am thrilled at the prospect of visiting our partners in Timor Leste from 28 August to 8 September with our Encounter Tour.  Once again, if you or anyone you know is interested in joining me on that visit, please book in!

As you may have learnt by now the OLSH Sisters were the winners of this year’s Easter Raffle.  Congratulations to them!  I am crossing my fingers that they will take up their prize in this forthcoming Timor Leste trip.  I was thrilled to see their name on the paper when I drew it out of the hat, as they represent so much of what Palms has stood for over these years: long term commitment to intercultural ‘mission without limits’, driven by the conviction that God’s love is boundless and unconditional.  Palms has been privileged to have the support and partnership of the major religious orders who operate in sites of mission around the world.  I am looking forward to nurturing and extending those partnerships which form an important aspect of what makes Palms special. 

Indeed, this will be a month for close reflection on the unique place that Palms has in the world of international development, as we approach our triennial Strategic Review Day.  This will be held in Sydney at ACU Strathfield on Sunday 21 April.  I welcome all members to attend if you would like to contribute towards our visioning process for the next 3 years.  If you are able or unable to make it, I encourage you to complete this brief survey by Thursday 11th April or please feel free to contact me to share your ideas.