Community Found: an Ambassador’s Story
Community. It has clearly defined me for a number of years in a number of ways. From being in school, to joining clubs and teams, to youth groups, to different friend groups. Community always came easy because it was built into those activities. Interesting how those communities also defined me as a student, an athlete, and a friend.
When I began my career as a teacher, I had a community that walked into my classroom each day with droves of families behind each of my students that created one really large community. It was hard to feel lonely as people were always around, but it also became clear that we all needed to play our part for the success of our community. We couldn’t all be teachers – imagine that chaos! And if we were all students, how would we learn new things?
When my career as a teacher ended along with getting older, I became an executive for a company where the interaction felt more like transactions. I began to realize that the community was not as ready-made as it once had been. If I wanted to be in community, I would have to actively seek out others. It was going to take effort and time.
Over the last several months, the reality of community has been flipped upside down. We have seen how we can all support one another in new ways, reaching out to help neighbors, friends, and loved ones, but we have also had to connect from a distance. I traded toilet paper for books and wine for soap. I have craved community more than ever. I have wanted to connect with people in a much more intentional, yet meaningful way.
Earlier this year, I had a friend from college invite me to her Noonday Trunk Show online. I decided to join, knowing her show was to benefit an adopting family. It moved me to think that through buying jewelry, I could help this couple see their dreams of a family realized. It was during this exact time that I was also experiencing my own journey, hoping to add to our family through fertility treatments, but due to a complication and my history of ovarian cancer, our family was actually going to be complete through needing an immediate hysterectomy.
Preparing for surgery, the Ambassador from the Noonday Trunk Show reached out and asked if I would host my own Trunk Show. I shared a bit of my story, to which she showed incredible empathy, but showed up as an unexpected friend, though we had never even met. I ended up saying “yes.”
I was thinking it would be a great distraction, but if I could also support Noonday’s Artisan Partners around the world who were making incredible jewelry and supporting their families, I was all in. Little did I know that the Ambassador would end up being the exact friend I needed to help spark a new sense of community.
We hosted the Trunk Show online. My toddler was climbing all over me while I tried to talk about my favorite pieces. I was a hot mess, but people showed up. They were supportive, they were understanding, and it was real life. My show was a huge success. The community showed up.
I had never met that Ambassador, Katie Gladding, in person, but she instantly became one of my strongest cheerleaders. She supported me in my recovery, she sent me notes of encouragement, and even a pair of earrings I wanted but didn’t get after hosting. When I finally met her in person, I hugged her so big, knowing she would be a lifelong friend. This was the community I had been searching for but didn’t know existed.
Saying yes to become an Ambassador was easy, even though it would take a bit of time, effort, and putting myself out there, but the most beautiful part of the invitation to join this sisterhood was that there is room for everyone at the table. And not only is there a seat for all, but we are all needed and celebrated.
Thankfully I was able to undergo a successful surgery (peace out, cancer!), but emerging from the other side, I am all the more committed to connecting in the community. I want to help encourage women struggling in disappointments, to walk in the difficult chapters of life, and to come together stronger and better than ever. I want to celebrate the victories and be what others have been for me. Together, we can truly be better.
Joining Noonday has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I get to link arms with all kinds of ladies around the country and partner with some incredibly talented Artisans around the world who are crafting beautiful pieces rooted in their cultures. I also get to help others celebrate their unique style through jewelry and accessories. I get to connect with people both in-person and online, highlight Artisan stories, connect with people around styles, and share our collective stories. There is so much magic in this mess, and with a bit of imperfect courage, you can be brave enough to meet one of the greatest communities ever.
There is absolutely room for you at this table. I have been in this community for three months now and am feeling so grateful for this wonderful opportunity. I just attended my first FAB (Fall Ambassador Bash), where we get to meet together with fellow Ambassadors in our area, and what a gift it was to be able to meet new friends and expand my community!
Let’s live together in purpose. Be brave. And come as you are.
Meet Ellen Young
Ellen Young is a Noonday Collection Ambassador. Her work involves connecting others in the community, particularly around aging and innovation. She usually has an iced coffee in hand and can often be found planning parties for the sake of a Tuesday. Ellen and her husband live in Southern California with their toddler son.