What Would Happen if You Gave Up on Your Calling? Encouragement Through the Dark Days of Leadership
Amy Buggle, CEO of DLC Nurse & Learn in Jacksonville, Florida, first developed a passion for special needs children when her four-year old cousin with Down Syndrome passed away. “Our whole family was affected,” said Amy. “My mom worked as a volunteer at a children’s hospital in our town and I tagged along sometimes. As a young girl of 10, I was asked if I would like to volunteer at the hospital working with the children in the Cerebral Palsy program and I loved it. I did it every summer after that. The children were so special and had such sweet spirits that I was drawn to them and wanted to make their lives better.”
Having developed a passion for special needs children at such a young age, she knew she wanted to make it a part of her career. She went on to college for her degree in Special Education, and later founded DLC Nurse & Learn in 1989, where she’s been leading ever since.
Leading a Special Needs organization is tough work, so when Amy went through dark times in her leadership, there were days she just wanted to give up. “Many times I’ve felt DLC would not survive another school year, but the Summit gave me courage to trust God and move forward,” Amy shares. “Many of the talks have been specifically about problems we were having with staff or things I personally struggled with as a leader, like vulnerability and how to have the tough conversations. After 27 years in this work, burnout is inevitable; the Summit has reminded me to keep myself strong and take care of myself.”
What if Amy had quit? What would that mean for the children and the families served through DLC?
Amy explains that families with special needs children generally have limited support systems. And this is where DLC comes in. In connection with the church, DLC welcomes and serves these families, and shares the love of Jesus. “The main thing we give families is the feeling they can make it,” said Amy. “We give them the ability to go back to work or school, as many have lost jobs or had to drop out of school due to their child’s medical situations. We encourage them by giving them hope and practical tips on helping their children succeed. They no longer feel isolated and alone.”
Amy finds most of her joy in serving parents. “Everything I do helps to relieve parents of their pain and the burden they carry. I know this is God reaching out to them through me and ultimately through the church. I want my dream of serving special needs families through the church to spread. I would love for church preschools to become places that welcome children with special needs as Jesus would have.”
If Amy hadn’t attended the Summit, she would have given up on her calling during the dark days of her leadership. She brings her team with her now, and encourages others to attend so they can experience a boost in their leadership as well. “I started coming to the Summit every year and bringing staff with me. One year, I brought all my full time staff. It was amazing,” said Amy. “I’ve been attending every year for 11 years! It’s one of the best way to connect to God for two days with no other distractions. I am able to hear what He wants me to focus on. It also validates me when I’m not sure of something. I realize I’m doing a better job than I think I am.
“If you have never been to the Summit, you are missing the greatest opportunity to literally change your thinking for the better. The Summit gives me the spiritual and emotional boost I need to make it through the year. It also gives you practical tips in a fun and entertaining way that you might not get otherwise.”
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