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My normal mode of operation at my job is not to look back at anything we accomplished in the past, but rather to look ahead to what else needs to be done. To paraphrase the old adage: “I’m a windshield guy, not a rearview mirror guy, because the windshield is much bigger.” When I drive through the 24:1 community, I focus my attention not on our new buildings, but vacant lots and buildings. I do cast a critical eye on the condition and upkeep of our homes, grocery store, theatre, and other buildings, but I also look more at what is left to do. It can briefly become a bit overwhelming, but I quickly move on what else can we do. While much has been accomplished, much more is to be done.
The other day on my lunch break I drove to our Save-A-Lot to get a few things for home. I walked through the store - it looked nice as always does - and spoke with my favorite checker, Ms. Sylvia. We talked about the store and how she was doing. I happened to have a $10 24:1 Cinema gift card on me and gave it to her, just because. Ms. Sylvia is what’s good about our community – she is kind, smart and always honest. She works hard and is compassionate to everyone who comes into the store.
After that rewarding interaction, I thought it might be a good day to take a little tour and “check the mirror.” From there I walked across the parking lot to visit our property management staff at Rosie Shields Manor, our 42-unit senior building. I poked my head in and spoke to staff, who were happy to see me and tell me about their work. After that, I walked around the lobby toward our community room but stopped to see our new partner, the Eye Care Charity of Mid-America, conducting vision exams for half a dozen kids in their new space. The kids beamed with excitement – they were thrilled to get good looking new glasses and to see better!
I continued down the hallway to see a dozen of our senior residents participating in a healthy cooking class that we operate in partnership with the Missouri Foundation for Health. My friends there shared with me how much they enjoyed the meal, the knowledge, and the fellowship. Then I walked back out toward the front door and stopped in to see staff at our Midwest Bank Centre branch. The staff was excited and thrilled about the great success of the branch, having just been recognized as one of the top performers in the entire company. I could feel their enthusiasm and passion for their work – it’s easy to see why they’re on top!
Continuing my tour, I jumped in my car and drove across the intersection to the 24:1 Cinema. The staff there also was excited about their work and the success of the cinema. As I walked back to my car, I saw that the St. Louis County Children’s Fund was beginning to move into the 2nd floor of our building next to the cinema. Finally, I smiled as I saw the sign that Affinia would be opening a health center May 19th on the first floor – what a fulfilling end to my whirlwind tour!Thirty minutes to see, touch, and feel eight years of work and recognize the rearview mirror has value. My tour reminded me why looking back is needed, but looking forward through that that windshield is what really moves us down the road.
I’ve been working in community development in the St. Louis area for 25 years, and I’ve been the CEO of Beyond Housing since 1993. While I’m proud of our accomplishments, I don’t claim to be an expert. At Beyond Housing, the experts we listen to are the voices of the community members we serve. I’ll be raising issues here that I believe matter to our community. I hope you’ll join the conversation. We do reserve the right not to post comments containing offensive language. To paraphrase Dr. King, we can disagree without being disagreeable.