In my introduction blog, I promised to be fully transparent in the good moments and in the bad ones. I wanted you to meet our staff and the people we serve. I wanted to bring you inside the organization. I didn’t know at the time, though, that I would be sharing some sad news so soon.
I didn’t know that a week after writing that initial promise, one of our staff members would unexpectedly pass away and I would have to figure out how to process that and somehow write a blog that couldn’t possibly do her justice. Toni Bougher worked at Bona Vista Programs for 19 years. For 19 years, she was sitting at the Positive Results Keys for Kids Preschool entrance every morning as kiddos and parents arrived for their day.
The kids. Oh, nothing has broken my heart more this week. Ask any child who has gone through those doors in the last 19 years who “The Sticker Lady” is, and they will tell you it’s Ms Toni. She didn’t care if it took 30 seconds or 5 minutes for a child to pick out their sticker for the day. She waited because they were important to her. She didn’t care if she was having a rough day or if a child was unhappy, they were the priority. She loved each child and their unique personalities. Because of that, each child has their own Ms Toni story — from wearing matching clown noses, to final adoption gifts she purchased, to buying cookies for kids who were making positive behavior changes in class, to just being there when they needed to see her beaming smile. She was their consistency in an inconsistent world.
The staff. Toni was the co-worker we all dream of having. She was funny, compassionate, and dependable. She instantly became part of your family because she genuinely cared about you. And, like family, she knew how to dish out the jokes one minute and listen to the problems in your life the next. She was there telling you how great you looked on days when your hair was in a messy bun and had coffee stains on your shirt, and you thought she must be looking at the person behind you. She wasn’t. She made every single person she saw every single day feel special in every single way. And, that wasn’t even her “job.”
There will be an adjustment period for all of us. But, eventually, a new person will sit where Toni sat. A new person will be on the other end of x376 when it rings to my office. A new person will be smiling from behind the glass when I get buzzed in from the side door. A new person will be handing out the stickers. That legacy will continue.
Until next time… keep a good view on life.