Kudos to Street Smart Ventures
I am an animal person – someone who has dedicated my life to education, preservation, and conservation. It’s what I love. More specifically, I am a turtle person. Anyone who knows me knows that this is my passion in life. That being said, my professional specialty is people. I have always been a people person, someone who tries to listen to others and is always outgoing and interested in making interpersonal connections. In my adult life, adopting the Enneagram as a teaching, leadership and most importantly a self-reflection tool has taken my/this approach to life to the next level.
When I think about my personal growth as a people person, I think about Britney Brewster and Alan MacKenzie, of Street Smart Ventures (SSV). Their organization helps people take their dreams to the next level. Britney has been the most important colleague I have ever had. Together, we built a renowned, grass-roots young adult program and developed non-traditional service delivery in social work case management that really turned a lot of heads. I will always be proud of our work and relationship. Alan was always my mentor, he had such a great way of putting things in perspective. He and I are both Enneagram type 7, which means we really focus on the exciting idea at hand. Britney is type 4, which means she really has a different approach to things, which has helped her keep us in check.
During my time running several social work programs, I had an idea. Of course, that’s what 7s do, is have ideas. With the support of Street Smart Ventures, like they have done countless times over the years, I started the Second Chance Project. This gave folks in recovery from mental health struggles and substance use histories a chance to learn and enjoy what I do. We took care of functionally extinct Vietnamese Pond Turtles, Mauremys annamensis, with participants learning important subjects like husbandry, natural history, data collection, etc.
My professional goals would have stopped me from making this a reality, if not for SSV. I was making efforts at the time to be less of a 7. As I love my number and am proud of who I am, I wanted to prove I wasn’t going to chase every idea that gave me excuses to do things I wanted to do at work. Their support of the program made it a reality. A pilot project, hopefully one that can be built on in the future.
Britney and Alan are still doing their thing through the pandemic, working mostly through Zoom meetings, doing all that they can to make dreams come true. They help foster a sense of purpose in people. They help them find their “why.” As silly as it may seem to many people, I have a focus in life and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Many people in our society don’t. Street Smart Ventures and my dear friends Britney and Alan give people the opportunity to have what I have. If more people were like them, the world would be a better place for all, including the most marginalized members of society and perhaps even turtles. Why not?