In a few short weeks, CommUnity will welcome a new Executive Director and I will hand over the reigns of an organization that has been a true highlight of my career. In 2008, I was given one charge when I was hired; “take us to the next level” and I was excited to come and see the possibilities.
No one does these things alone, though, and I came to work alongside a small, but mighty staff and several hundred volunteers. There were only seven regular staff back then; however in 2008 you all remember we were just beginning programming for flood recovery. In the chaos of building the flood recovery programs; staff and the board developed a strategic plan that strengthened our operations. We then started to dream of the possibilities for our programs and what a time we had!
You know all this, but indulge me one last time. We became one of the first agencies in the country to provide crisis chat and we remain a national leader in crisis chat services. I’m so proud that our staff had a part in helping to develop these national services and crisis chat protocol nearly a decade ago.
CommUnity is recognized and respected at the national level and last year the National Suicide Lifeline selected us to pilot its new national text service. Additionally, our experience in disaster services led to us securing one of two national disaster text lines.
We became a local leader in fighting food insecurity in Johnson County and facilitated food insecurity discussions with community leaders that led to the creation of the Johnson County Hunger Task Force which funded new food relief programs to address quality and accessibility in our local hunger system. I’m proud that we began collaborations with food rescue and food pantries in our county and continue to work alongside those partners to address food insecurity issues.
As a provider in our mental health region, we began providing mobile crisis services and will now be working to develop a co-responding police and mental health team with Iowa City Police Department. We are also at the very beginning of plans to further develop crisis response teams to further our work in Iowa City and Johnson County law enforcement agencies.
CommUnity has been at the table to develop the access center for nearly a decade. Because of the support and leadership of the county and municipalities, the GuideLink Access Center opened its doors in February of this year. I’m not only proud, but very excited to see the increased access and much needed quality mental health care this facility will provide for our community.
Somewhere in there, CommUnity along with the county and community support, turned the old health department building into the 1105 Project. It remains a true example of the benefit of collaborative effort and a home for three nonprofit agencies.
I’m grateful for all of the support we have received over the years because none of what we’ve done would have been possible without you. I worked among talented staff, board members, volunteers and local leaders, and each of you have made CommUnity one of the best organizations in our community. It has been my honor to be a part CommUnity’s journey. And for that, I thank you for entrusting me to be its leader for the past 13 years. I look forward to witnessing its future accomplishments.
Yours in CommUnity,