Interview with Janice Perino

Janice Perino lives in Denver and is retiring this week after several decades of employment and community service through volunteer programs.  She was raised in Rawlins, Wyoming and then raised her two daughters, Dana and Angie, near Denver, Colorado.  She is a gifted sportswoman and is looking forward to having more time to pursue old (golf) and new interests (skiing and tai chi).  Minute Mentoring® asked her for reflections and advice for women juggling all that life has to offer.

You’re retiring this year, and it seems like you have a new lease on life. Looking back, what were some of your favorite jobs and/or assignments?

My favorite job was working for a non-profit organization, Lutheran Family Services.  I was hired as the Volunteer Director and Special Event Coordinator.  The volunteer program grew from zero volunteers to over 500 volunteers equaling approximately $25,000 in professional time a year.  I started a volunteer mentoring training program for foster care families, a birth grandparent support group, resettled numerous refugee families and sought extra in-home help for seniors. For eight years the special event averaged 600-700 guests for a sit down dinner, entertainment by top stars of the industry, and proudly raised over $500,000 for the agency.

I was honored by Lutheran Disaster Response to be the volunteer director of hospitality for two trials.  I was given the task of creating a home-like environment in the basement of a church for the victims and families of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.  With the assistance of hundreds of volunteers, hours of scheduling, financial support, the basement of a church was turned into small family rooms.  We served breakfast and lunch every day and caring individuals stood in line at the courthouse to save a seat in the courtroom for family members.  I remember standing in the rubble of the bombed out buildings in Oklahoma City and wondering how this project could be achieved.  I understand Denver continues to be remembered as the hospitality city.

But…my favorite “job” was raising two daughters to be professional, compassionate women who are making a difference in the world.

You raised two daughters and a few pets over the years – did you ever find a good work-life balance, and what was your secret?

When you are a loyal employee in the “caring industry”, at times boundaries are difficult to establish because the needs are so great.  There were times when I was pulled in too many directions.  Working for a non-profit helping organization, I involved my family in volunteering to help them understand and see the needs of the world. Families who volunteer together stick together!

There comes a time in everyone’s career when you must prioritize your obligations.  Boundaries must be created and adhered to.  Once I was able to define my boundaries, my work-life balance plan was obvious.  To this day, my boundaries are firmly stated which makes for a continued balance for my work-personal life.

At a MM event in Denver, you were asked by a mentee about how to deal with a workplace bully. What was your advice?

Open, face to face communication with the “bully” is how I would address the issue.  My goal would be to find a solution between the two of us.  If we could not resolve the issue, I would have no hesitation to present to the next level of management for assistance.

Healthcare is a growing field with many complications – where do you see the most need and opportunity for women in healthcare?

I have been in healthcare since I was 20 years old.  I have seen many changes and challenges in those years.  The biggest issue I see presently in Colorado, particularly, is the mental health system.  Colorado is ranked 48 out of 50 states.  The cracks people fall into are like canyons. “A round peg doesn’t fit into the square hole”.   It is frustrating and heartbreaking to see individuals who need help so desperately but no one wants to help them either because of insurance, age, no beds available, no family support to embrace or act as their advocate.

Get involved in your community, learn about the current issues, volunteer your time to be a mentor, you don’t have to be a counselor but learn to listen with your heart.  The hardest part is taking the first step.  Find a buddy who has the same interest and support one another.  If you can make a difference for one person, young or old, your rewards will be worth the energy it took to reach out and touch another person’s life, and you will be a richer person.

Signature question – your top three tips you would give to young women starting out or in transition?

1. Pursue your education

2. Find  your personal boundaries to establish a balance of body, mind and spirit

3. Be the person who makes a difference in your chosen field

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