Abby will be serving as the Chief Listening Officer at Someone To Tell It To. She will be primarily focused on setting up a training program to deepen a global movement of compassionate listening.

 

Abby has experienced the power of listening in her own life and has a beautiful story of how she came to work with us full-time. We asked her to share some of that story here:

 

About seventeen years ago, just before I started college six hours from home, my father was diagnosed with cancer. As the youngest of seven kids, I was Daddy’s little girl and I was terrified of losing him. Then, in the midst of watching him deteriorate, the blow came that my 24-year-old brother Andy also had cancer. Below is an excerpt from my book, Hidden Miracles, which describes how I felt when I found out about Andy’s sickness.

 

“I must have been in shock because I don’t remember anything except sitting in front of the closed door of my dorm room sobbing for what seemed like hours. I don’t remember my roommate coming back. I don’t remember calling anyone. I just remember the feeling of helplessness, of hopelessness, of terror. I remember curling fetus-like on the floor blocking the door. Perhaps if I kept the world from knowing my pain, it would turn out to be only a nightmare.”

 

It wasn’t a nightmare, however. It was my reality, and as I watched these two men I loved suffer from this evil disease, I fell into a deep depression. Surrounded by friends, family, professors, and the man I later married, all I felt was alone. I won’t give away the whole story (you’ll have to buy my book to find out more), but I will tell you that this experience gave me a passion to serve others who are wrestling with deep hurts and loneliness.

 

After college, I earned a master’s in Counseling and joined a private practice where I counseled for three and a half years. During my time as a counselor, I realized that what so many of my clients needed was someone to walk with them in their pain. I could relate, but I felt helpless to do anything about it.

 

A few years later, I found myself in an administrative role at a non-profit. It was not what I wanted to be doing, but I really wasn’t sure what I did want to do—how to solve the issues of deep loneliness and disconnectedness I was witnessing everywhere.

 

In my role at the non-profit, I helped develop a contract with Someone To Tell It To. During one of our meetings, Tom asked me, “You seem like someone with gifts for compassion and empathy. How do you find fulfillment in this role?” I wasn’t sure how to respond, and Tom’s question stuck with me. As I continued to work with them, and as I read their first book, I decided I wanted to do some volunteer work for them. As I worked alongside them, I realized that what they were doing was exactly what I’d been looking for. After a few weeks of deliberating, I left my job to dedicate more time to Someone To Tell It To, in hopes that there would soon be funding for a paid role. In October, that funding came from the Anonymous Fund of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities, Harrisburg, PA.

 

Now, as an official employee of Someone To Tell It To, I am honored and humbled to be able to offer my skills as a counselor and as a writer to create training materials to continue enhancing a global movement of compassionate listening. With these materials, we will hire more compassionate listeners and we will train those in health care (physical and mental) facilities, businesses, churches, ministries, schools, and countless other organizations to listen well to those for whom they provide care. Tom, Michael, and I believe we can share our expertise in listening to combat the worldwide crisis of loneliness that has become epidemic. Together, we can improve mental health, deepen spiritual faith, improve interpersonal relationships, maximize work performance, and so much more.

 

This is such an exciting time for us—and as someone who values compassionate listening, we hope it’s exciting for you, too. We can’t wait to see Abby’s efforts begin to bear fruit as more and more people experience the transformative power of compassionate listening. Be on the lookout for more information about training coming soon!