Plan your work, work your plan!
It’s an old saying, and I learned it from the father of a college friend. He always said it in a high pitched voice for comedic effect. It didn’t make me chuckle then, but it does now. In January, the Board of Directors and I prepared a plan for Family Promise of Linn County 2.0. We focused on building slowly to solidify our foundation. We knew we had a great mission and great support from our community; now it was time to be diligent with our choices and our path forward. The goal was to set a course in 2018 that would allow for maximum growth in 2019 and 2020.
It feels great to say we have accomplished our to-do list. We wanted to slowly build back to serving three families at a time to ensure quality services and an excellent experience for our volunteers and faith communities. On November 7, 2018, we reached our goal by having two families in our shelter program and our refugee family in secure housing, and we’re still helping support them. We started 2018 with seven host communities and have grown to eleven faith communities with an eye on adding two more before the calendar turns over. For 2019 and 2020, the goal is to add thirteen more and have two rotations co-occurring. We built and launched two fundraisers this year, a small storytelling event organized around the theme of home, and a significant event in a partnership with NewBo Market, The Family Promise of Linn County Sleep-Out for Homeless Families. We added a full-time staff whose primary focus is providing top-notch care to our families. We crossed the line of 4000 volunteer hours as our mission continues to be surrounding our homeless families with the people of Cedar Rapids and Marion.
Two of our successful families this year constantly remarked how the difference between the Family Promise approach and other approaches was how everyone made us feel like we belonged in their company. They commented they were essential and they were equal. Seventy-five percent of families served this year have completed the program with secure housing. Those results do not happen without our staff, our board, and our volunteers without following our plan, our mission: Building Community, Strengthening Lives.
Looking forward to finishing up 2018 by helping families have a great holiday season and moving into 2019, knowing we’ve built a program with a broad foundation of care and compassion.
John Paul Derryberry