Your Time is Valuable


By Jennifer I. Tougas, Ph.D., CAPP

We are approaching the one year anniversary of devastating tornadoes that struck the southeast and Kentucky in particular.  Hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed in Bowling Green alone, and 17 people lost their lives.  The University was spared, but only by the grace of God; had the tornado traveled ¼ mile west, I’d be telling a different story.

Immediately after the tornado, I reached out to our local Habitat for Humanity chapters and told them to sign me up when they get ready to rebuild.  This summer, I was chosen to be a house leader for one of 10 homes they were building to re-home some families displaced by the tornadoes.  The Build Blitz week was the same week as the annual IPMI conference, so I had to make a choice as to how to spend my time.

I chose to build because I had made the commitment when I reached out to them in the early hours of December 11th.  I chose to build because I wanted to make a contribution to help heal our community.  But what I received was far greater than what I gave.  Each morning, we started the day with a devotional.  And the message everyday to the hundreds of community members that passed through the volunteer tent was, “Your time matters and we’re grateful that you chose to give your time to us.”

This past October, one of our long-term employees died unexpectedly, just 45 days shy of retirement.  He had been talking for months about his plans with his partner to travel the world once he retired.  Oh, the places they would go!  Checking in with his partner before the memorial service, he gave just one piece of advice.  “Love on your loved ones.  You don’t know how much time you have together.”

Jennifer I. Tougas, Ph.D., CAPP, is AVP Business Services for Western Kentucky University and a member of  the IPMI Board of Directors. She can be reached at