Having lived through the last 30 years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic I always find saying goodbye a hard thing – having lots many friends and people who I loved and adored has made me dislike the notion of saying goodbye to people.  One of my gorgeous friends Ben constantly tells me I have separation anxiety – which I suppose is true when I think about it.

I have worked at the WA AIDS Council for the past 18 years (I know a lifetime to lots of people who do not seem to stay long in one position these days) and in that time I have worked with some amazing people. There is one person above all who has been a constant in that time in the office – Sally Rowell. Sally started at WAAC 6 months after me and on Friday we had a good bye gathering at Connections in Northbridge to say farewell and to see her on her way to a new position at the Hep Council.

Sally1

It was great to see past and present staff all attend to pay tribute to a woman who has been integral in the success of the work that WAAC has done to date.  Sally has worked in a range of different positions and is one of those people who always put her hand up to help out and was a real leader for the organisation in her time there.  She is one of the most inspiring, creative, hard working and dedicated women that I have ever had the privilege of working with.  Sally is one of those people who is always first to say yes to helping out in any way she can with any problem that you might have, always there to listen, offer encouragement and to support you through the challenges that sometimes occur in the work that we do at WAAC.

I am fortunate that I have a strong connection with her as she we are family and so for me it was not so much a goodbye but a see you around.  But I did notice this morning as I opened up my office and turned on my computer that I did not hear her foot fall down the stairs and the usual ‘morning’ that would ring out in the hallway.

One of the wonderful things about working in a community based organisation is the sense of family that exists amongst the staff that work there.  It can of course be dysfunctional at times like any large family but on the whole we work hard, work together and create and do some of the most amazing things together.  As part of Sally’s going away we put together a DVD that was played on the night – she is a huge PINK fan and so we filmed all our staff lip syncing to Blow Me One Last Kiss – you can check it out here at youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qniI2V0UkWY  To me it highlights the personalities of the staff I work with every day but also was great fun to do and I hope you enjoy it too!

This is what I mean by family, when we asked staff to be part of it, everyone said yes and they all happily played their role in putting it together with us.  We had a blast and really loved working on it and then sharing it with Sally on Friday night…she loved it.

So as Sally takes a week off before she starts her new job, our hallways are a little quieter and that distinctive shoe clacking in the corridor has left the building…and as Sally would say and still does say – It’s been rich and real!