The following blog is some of the thoughts shared by myself at Geoff’s memorial service.
Geoff has been described by many as visionary, motivating, dedicated and compassionate. He knew what he wanted and he could adeptly share his dream and motivate those who heard him, to take up the challenge.
Many have spoken about how Geoff was a leader who empowered others. He did this by providing a sense of belonging and purpose; by sharing his dream and throwing the challenge to his staff to help him actualize this vision. Many took Geoff up on this invitation.
- That’s how one person’s dream of providing staff with high quality child care for their own children, while they were working at the Ranch, evolved into five Early Learning Centers now operated by Ranch Ehrlo.
- That’s how we were able to build on the clinical strengths of our residential treatment programs and develop an array of community counseling and support services for the greater Regina area.
- That’s how one classroom’s goal to outfit a group of Regina youth with hockey equipment so that they could participate on community hockey teams, evolved to encompassing a variety of sports leagues, an equipment library, and programs meeting the ever evolving recreational needs of children and youth in Regina, Prince Albert, and Saskatoon.
Geoff was also approachable. Regardless of who you were, his office door was always open. Or, if you met up with him walking about the campus or in a parking lot at a local mall, Geoff always met you with a warm, friendly smile and made time to chat. He truly cared about others.
Geoff was determined! He loved a challenge. I can recall him telling me, “Don’t always give in to me. Stand up to me!” While facing Geoff in this manner usually did not go well for whoever chose to be so silly, it was an interesting dance to watch as Geoff would so adeptly weave his way through whatever the situation was, eventually proving time and time again that he was right all along!
Geoff loved learning! It was no accident that education was one of the cornerstones of Ranch Ehrlo programming. He clearly understood that to overcome the challenge of poverty and its many related barriers, one needed a solid education. This conviction also was seen in his belief that Ranch Ehrlo staff should be lifelong learners and was supported through covering the costs of staff taking up to two post-secondary courses per year.
But, these are all characteristics that many of us already know about Geoff. The question is ‘What do we do now that he isn’t there to guide us?’
Day-by-day we are coming to terms with the fact that we no longer have our friend, leader, and our founder to walk along beside us. But, Geoff’s legacy lives on. He has prepared us, through encouraging each of us to set high ideals and then to determinedly strive to meet them, and most importantly through building strong lasting relationships that will stand the test of time. Geoff has passed the torch to us, and it is now our responsibility to hold it high and to ‘Go Forward With Pride!’