I can remember clearly the first time I was told that change is constant: “Change is what happens, and if you don’t adapt, you die.”
It was harsh advice given to a 5-year-old me by my parents after the passing of our beloved family dog, but in reflection, the remark has proven itself true. No comment on the part of parenting skills.
So why do we fight change?
For some, it is because if we are comfortable, change could make us uncomfortable. We fear the unknown, and as anything new is unknown, we see the worst case scenario as the one most likely. Change can be seen as a threat to our personal values and beliefs, and for the most part, we do not like to rock those boats.
History teaches us is that stability is never constant. It teaches us that the ability to anticipate, adapt, and grow is necessary. It tells us that fundamental core values can provide the foundations on which we can thrive in a complex and ever-changing environment.
So let me bring this to Episcopal Community Services.
We do not accept that 28 percent of the region lives in poverty. We have looked at ourselves and concluded that this 145 year old agency of ours needs to pivot. We reexamined ourselves and what our mission, vision, and values are.
We concluded that our mission is to challenge and reduce intergenerational poverty. We increase the ability of people to improve their lives and achieve economic independence, and we call upon every person to participate in sustainable, positive change for our communities. Essentially, we ask people to Look Up and Challenge Poverty—the agency’s new tagline.
We envision a world where the path to prosperity is available to all. A hand-up, not a hand out, so to speak.
And our core values have been identified as impact, justice, dignity, and community—each with a bedrock definition of their own to better guide us.
The combination of our faith tradition and solid social work values gives us a unique capability, one we can leverage in our work. After thoughtful research, we have identified the best science to help us deliver results. A certain model of economic mobility and mentoring is the best one available, and we are in the process of training ourselves with the intent to integrate the science into current programs and create new ones focused specifically on economic mobility.
Additionally, we have added resources in the advocacy, talent development, and data analytics areas. We are looking at our funding streams, governance, and partnership with our diocese and parishes as to current and future best practices—all while keeping the lights on with our current well-regarded programming that serves more than 2,000 individuals annually.
With this pivot, I am proud of our staff, our board, our partners, and the people we serve. We have chosen to not fear change, rather to embrace it. In doing so, we improve our work drive more sustainable, positive change for our communities.
We do so with our Episcopal traditions in place, serving as a guide in all that we do.
Look Up. Challenge Poverty.