Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, one of our favorite past times was floating the Clarion River—which passed through the middle of town. Every summer my dad and his friends would gather multiple inner tubes and lash them together to form a floating armada. As we grew older, we each had our own tubes to float in. The dads had their coolers tied to their tubes holding the ice-cold beer, lunch and snacks.
My siblings and I tried to recreate this idyllic water ride with our children a few years ago. Rather than lashed inner tubes, we invested in two-person rafts and some official water flotation devices. My brother piloted a three-man (the fourth seat was reserved for the beer cooler!) inflatable canoe. He was ready to test the small rapids and enjoy a nice float.
What we did not anticipate was the storm the day before, which had created hazards in the river including falling branches—and the current was quite fast. I realized as soon as we set out that the river was moving much faster than normal and the water was higher from the storm—but off we went.
We had not traveled far before my nephew hit a large branch protruding from the water and poked a hole in his raft. Fortunately, he was able to quickly jump into my brother’s canoe. As the swift water moved us forward at a speedy clip, we bumped into each other and sometimes were pushed into creepy edges filled with spider webs.
Suddenly, we heard a loud pop. My brother’s canoe hit an unavoidable rock and plowed into a branch. His pride and joy begin to deflate in the middle of the river. “Save the cooler!” we yelled. But he was busy getting his wife to shore. We learned that day that she did not know how to swim. She had on a life preserver, but still it was scary. He was able to get her, the now flat canoe, and cooler to shore. So much for riding the river wild.
There were many unexpected incidents that day as we navigated what we had always thought of as our river. The experience reminds me of our newly launched fundraising campaign for CREW Network Foundation, Lift as We Rise. Like our river trip, young women start their career in commercial real estate with high hopes and ambition. There can be many unexpected challenges and barriers along the way—as well as high points and peaks.
Our Lift as We Rise campaign helps future leaders land safely in a commercial real estate career path of their choosing. It ensures a lifeboat of professionals to turn to in turbulent rapids. It supports our research, which anticipates the future and enables us to plan accordingly to meet the fallen tree limbs or branches that may impede our way.
When you support CREW Network Foundation, you are creating the path forward for young women—and there is no better time to invest than right now. As you reflect on your own career journey, recall those times when you needed a lift or a helping hand. That is what we are creating through our work. Won’t you join us to lift as we rise in our careers? Make your contributions now.
more CREW View
Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.