The first quarter of 2017 (where did three months go!?!!) has been interesting! We began with a frenzied pace, slowed only a beat or two in February - still above our normal pace and now March has allowed us to breathe just a little. As the year began we welcomed 4 new board members (Katie Duncan, Becky Eckert, Hollie Sigler and Erika Weaver) with fresh ideas, amazing energy and a deep passion for our community. Add them to an already engaged, passionate board and what happens - amazing things happen! There are a few surprises ahead!
In the office, follow up calling reveals neighbors who have wisely used their tax refunds, neighbors who are now employed and then neighbors who continue to struggle. With each call, information is shared to help resource and empower our neighbors to work through whatever is preventing them from a more stable life.
Our mail carrier has delivered several hand written notes from recent neighbors thanking the staff for their kindness, compassion and assistance. Such a good feeling to know we are staying true to the mission. More than half of the neighbors we see are here for the very first time. They have found us either through a church, friends, their child's school or another social service agency in town. At first they seem a bit nervous but soon find a level of comfort as they talk through the problem at hand with a warm and attentive coach. Just setting a plan and having steps to follow makes a big difference and as they leave there is almost always a thank you and "have a wonderful day" shared.
From where I sit, Good Neighbors is making a difference in the lives of our neighbors. Our neighbors need a place that can help not only financially but also with resources, compassion, care and encouragement. Judgement is not part of the equation and our neighbors are grateful for affirmation and praise when appropriate. Isn't that what we all want? Don't we all want to be affirmed, to be reminded that we are "enough" and that there is nothing that may happen that is insurmountable? We are not alone. There is a village - our community, our neighbors, our churches, our family and our friends just waiting to help, to care and to provide a path to a better life.
One quarter of 2017 has passed. There are 9 months left to make a difference in the lives of others, to share and care. I'm pondering my role and responsibility. How about you?