Every Role Matters

A lesson on working with intention

By Jesse Sullinger

November 08, 2021 | 40 Years 40 Lessons

Every person's story counts

We sometimes take for granted the role we play in moving the world along, and for some of us, it’s difficult to see the power we hold in the development of all that’s around us. That’s why the leadership concept that all involved with Unbound are co-creators of the organization is one that has given me pause.

My journey at Unbound began as a phone representative. For my first year and a half, my days were spent answering phone calls and emails from sponsors. I addressed their concerns and made changes to their accounts. I had good calls and I had very hard calls.

At community (all-staff) meetings of the Kansas City staff, I would sit with my fellow Sponsor Support representatives and hear about the journeys of other Unbound employees and the amazing things they had managed to achieve in their time working with the organization. Traveling to other countries to meet the families we serve, creating new websites and databases to help grow our mission. THEY were co-creating Unbound with their great innovations and constant commitment to going further and trying harder.

Conversely, co-creation never seemed like something I was actively contributing to as a phone representative. Sure, I was doing my job. I fulfilled the expectations required of me, but beyond that it was difficult to see any kind of progress I was making in my role to move Unbound forward.

More than a Job


The problem was that I could not see myself as an agent of positive change. In any other company, customer service agents might be given a set of goals and expectations, they clock in, do their work, and they leave at the end of the day. That has been my experience in every other job I have had. I was so used to being just another nameless face in the crowd, another cog in the machine, that it never occurred to me that I could be more.

However, with time comes perspective. The longer I am at Unbound (I recently completed my second year), the more I realize how crucial every person is to the creation and furthering of Unbound’s journey. This does not simply apply to the employees at Unbound, but to the sponsors and sponsored friends and their families as well. We are all co-creating.

And this absolutely includes those of us who spend every day taking phone calls from sponsors. As I have come to realize, the job of a sponsor support liaison is not limited to customer service. We must be so much more. We must be educators, listeners, empathizers. We must be human and vulnerable.

Sponsor Support is the sponsor-facing advocate for our sponsored friends and their families. We are there to help sponsors understand the program and aid in guiding them on their journey. In other words, we are as crucial to the mission as anybody, and I have come to understand my role as a co-creator with each new phase of my journey here at Unbound.

I could go further into the great work that the Sponsor Support team does, but that is not quite the point. Basically, what I have learned is that Unbound’s leadership principle of everyone involved being co-creators is not just about looking toward the future, it requires us, the members of the Unbound network, to hold ourselves with dignity in the present.

We strive in our work to honor the dignity of the families we serve, but in so doing, we must develop our own sense of dignity in the work we do, and in the change we can create. Ultimately, Unbound challenges us not to underestimate attention to the small details. As long as all of us — from the humblest roles to those in leadership — are working with intention, we are valuable, we are co-creating.

Photo 1: Members of the Unbound community around the world are doing their part to serve the poor and marginalized. Rica, a sponsored youth from Legazpi, Philippines, is a second-year college student who was recognized regionally and internationally in the SINERGY competition. SINERGY (Students, Ideas and Energy) is a platform for students to share their projects and ideas to create a better world. Rica was recognized for her project to provide vocational training to children with special needs.

Photo 2: Brejit, mother of sponsored child John, led a group of parents who donated a computer and printer to a public school in their community. The group got an Agents of Change grant through Unbound’s Legazpi program. Agents of Change supports small-scale, local solutions to meet community needs.

The longer I am at Unbound (I recently completed my second year), the more I realize how crucial every person is to the creation and furthering of Unbound’s journey. This does not simply apply to the employees at Unbound, but to the sponsors and sponsored friends and their families as well. We are all co-creating.

— Jesse Sullinger, SPONSOR SUPPORT TEAM MEMBER

About the author:

Jesse Sullinger supports letter translations as part of Unbound’s Sponsor Support team. She’s passionate about honoring the dignity of the families we serve around the world and sharing their stories and perspectives.



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