As I look back, 2017 was really exhausting. There was so much going on. I am speaking primarily to the constant turbulence woven throughout our political worlds on a local, state and national level. The turbulence caused many people to limp into this year with a bit of dread and or concern.
For those of you who know me, I am generally optimistic and dare I say hopeful as I don’t let things out of my control bring me down. With that in mind, I plan on entering 2018 as I always do – with a sense of optimism and hope. And I won’t stop until I slide gracefully into 2019. My optimism is not based on blind optimism or sophomoric hope. But rather based upon years of experience and in the deep conviction that Beyond Housing will continue to succeed in helping entire communities become better places to live.
Like each of the last 24 years as CEO of Beyond Housing, 2018 will be a challenge. The systems that have been in place for generations make life far too complicated for those we serve in our communities. And yet, as I think about 2018 through the lens of my unwavering optimism and hope, my team and I along with our countless partners are already focusing on what needs to be done in order to make sure that we can fulfill on the dreams and aspirations of the individuals and families living in the 24:1 Community.
- We will build 41 new homes for families living in Pine Lawn. Our portfolio of homes will exceed 500!
- We will continue to work with the 24:1 Community Land Trust and renovate over 100 homes owned by existing residents, mostly senior citizens.
- We will forge a partnership with the newly formed Collective Impact Network, aligning the resources from partner’s for the benefit of those living in the 24:1 Community.
- We will offer free tax return preparation at our new offices and hope to serve over 300 families.
- We will host the annual Beyond the Backpack event providing 2,000 backpacks full of school supplies to ensure the children of our community are prepared for school.
- We will continue to offer every incoming kindergarten student in Normandy a $500 Missouri 529 college savings account.
- We will launch a community health worker program which will provide assistance to residents in the 24:1 Community around health initiatives and resources.
- We will continue our work with the Normandy Schools Collaborative and support the district as they move towards full accreditation.
While this represents just a few of the things that we have going on, it paints a good picture of why I continue to be so optimistic and hopeful for 2018 and beyond despite the turmoil that surrounds us in the daily news.
My mood and sentiment remind me of the Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentile Into that Good Night”. Thomas is raging about the onset of blindness that his father is experiencing.
Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rage at close of day
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
His poem is a perfect metaphor for the world we live in, and more specifically for our work in the 24:1 Community. Understanding this, we will not go gentle into the year. We will rage against the inequities that the families in our community face, against the harm poverty brings to our children, and against any of the unjust local, state or federal policies that negatively impact our work.
We invite you to join us as we rage against the dying of the light. Because we have more work to do – for the 24:1 Community, our families and their children.
Full steam ahead!