….and a look back at 2017 and ahead at 2018
As we close out 2017, I am filled with conflicting emotions. The end of any year always carries a hint of sadness but at the same time a hopefulness for what the coming year might bring.
Last week, we held our final Board of Directors meeting of 2017. This marked the end of an era for two very special people. Lisa Rock and Nancy Nelson are two long-standing board members who have been invaluable to our organization. It isn’t often that you have people with such passion and drive for the issues and mission of an organization – let alone two of them at the same time. This makes it doubly sad for us to be losing them to attrition (bylaw rules) at the same time.
Lisa Rock, a Realtor and Historic Property Specialist at REMAX, is our outgoing president. Lisa is finishing her second three-year term on our Board of Directors and her second term as president. While Lisa likes to think of herself as more of a ‘work horse’ than a leader, she has proven herself to have just the right qualities to get us through what many would call a ‘tough year’ at the CAC. The past twelve months have been a time of huge transition for us, and many people would have grown tired – or simply not had what it took to see it through. Lisa took the bull by the horns and giving up was never an option for her. The staff here at the CAC is very grateful to her for her leadership, her caring heart and her attention to our needs, feelings and ideas. Lisa, we wish you all the best as you take a break (we aren’t letting you get away forever!) and we hope you are able to enjoy a more relaxed schedule in the coming year.
Nancy Nelson is also retiring from the board after 6 years of service. Nancy is retired from the St. Joseph School District as an educator and has headed up our Governance Committee. Her heart for children clearly carried over from education to her service with the CAC. Nancy’s attention to detail helped us through Strategic Planning as well as a nearly complete overhaul of most policies and procedures, including our bylaws. Taking on projects such as these is no easy task. It takes not only a desire to attend to the details of it all, but the organizational skills to make it all happen. I personally have received more encouragement from Nancy than I could ever express appropriate gratitude for. During our year of transition, Nancy made it her mission to ensure that everyone at the Center was personally doing well. Even if they didn’t all know it, Nancy always asked about the well-being of everyone here and for that, I am very, very grateful. We will certainly miss you, Nancy.
And so we say goodbye to 2017. Reflecting on this year, I find it hard to realize that it is already gone. Having been the Executive Director since July, I felt like we might be further along in some areas by this time of year. Plans move slowly, much to my disliking. However, I am learning patience about the pace of things.
WHERE HAVE WE BEEN?
So, what have we accomplished? One of our biggest successes this year has been obtaining a grant on which we have set high hopes. That was wonderful news. Second and probably most important to our mission, we have expanded our counseling services in order for more children to be able to utilize them. We are seeing some of our St. Joseph clients at school now and expanding this option to other counties in order to see some children at school instead of here in our office. This relieves the family of the burden of getting the children to regular appointments and relieves the child of having to be absent from school for those appointments. That’s a win-win in my book! We have also now added a Family Advocate who is doing a great job taking care of the needs of the families of the children we serve. Our focus is the child, of course, but the family has needs that we simply cannot ignore. It is going to change how we do business from this point forward – in a very good way.
WHERE ARE WE HEADED?
What are we aiming for in 2018? My wish list is long and my goals are lofty. I have believed all along that we need to be doing more prevention education in our communities. In light of recent local and national events, I am more convinced than ever. The adults and the children in the counties we serve need to know how to prevent abuse. Everyone can benefit and we will be a healthier community when we work together to prevent terrible things from happening to our children.
I have set a personal goal of training at least 500 adults in 2018 through our Darkness to Light program. We have services provided by other individuals in our office that help kids learn about internet and phone safety. We have plans to add more education options for the children and families we serve, as well as the community at large. There is a lot of ground to cover and we are excited to start. The Darkness to Light national hashtag is #itstartswithyou. I take that to heart and believe that we are all responsible for the children in our midst.
Thank you to all who have helped us in some way in 2017. Please know that you have made a difference in kids’ lives. Whether you have volunteered at a fundraiser or provided financial donations or sponsorships – you are a champion for the children we serve and we thank you on their behalf.
Melissa Birdsell, Executive Director