Mary C. Howell
The most important lessons of the Kennedy Aging Project for me had to do with trust and letting go. First, the grace of being able to work with the Kennedy Foundation, with funds given because we, as individuals, were known and trusted to do our best work, brought forward our very best efforts. This was especially true of the three "regular" members of the staff ( Cabrera, DeBrine, Howell), we who spent the most hours, year-round, answering telephones, dealing with correspondence, responding to requests for help, and identifying ourselves with the goals of the Project.
Second, within the Project, a spirit of positive expectation drew a high quality of effort from everyone who participated. Almost every student remarked that being considered a full member of the team encouraged a kind of effort that was involved, creative, and energetic. Faculty, as well, were responsible, engaged, and gave fully, beyond the limited schedules of time that had been agreed to.
Third, it was exciting to see an idea ("teach health professionals. . .", et cetera) be lived out--trying this possibility, then that, to see what worked best--by a group who felt in harmony with each other. I believe that the Project was a nice example of group process at its best, without authoritarian leadership or predetermined, cut-and-dried procedures to curtail exploration and invention.
In a time when we are inclined to be skeptical about the possibility of successful work in any format other than individualistic, competitive effort, it was heartening--and fun--to be a part of a collective effort that was productively successful.