As a new member of the Evergreen Christian Outreach board of directors, I was invited to participate in an all-day Saturday board retreat. The purpose was to gain agreement concerning the future direction the board would take the organization.
These types of events are interesting to me, and I was looking forward to getting to know my fellow board members better as we participated in the work of the day. OK, there was another reason for my enthusiasm.
The meeting was to take place at the home of Jan and Craig Stadler. As a lifelong golfer, I admit to being a bit star-struck at the prospect of meeting the former professional golfer who had a great career both on the regular and Champions tours. He had wins at the 1982 Masters, the Bob Hope Desert Classic and the Greater Greensboro Open, just to list a few.
I made a mental note of a couple of questions I would ask him. I found both Craig and Jan to be warm and wonderful people. It was an uplifting day and the venue contributed.
As we got to work on our agenda, I was struck by the enthusiasm in the room. There were 15 participants, an impressive group of highly accomplished individuals. As we progressed, I could not help thinking how lucky Evergreen is to have so much talent focusing on one of the community’s most beloved institutions.
You probably know the drill. First, focus on the organization’s future vision. A proper vision has to be able to lift the organization to a new level of performance, so it had to be inspiring, yet realistic. The exact words are not yet complete, but the idea was for EChO to be a conduit for building a safe and healthy community. Another central idea was for EChO to normalize asking for help. These are laudable ideas but not easy to accomplish. Good, I thought, easy is not what we should be seeking.
The fact that this board was looking for new levels of attainment for the organization might imply that it was trying to improve less than exemplary performance. 2020 was actually a banner year for the organization, which had stretched itself during one of the most difficult years in its 34-year history.
The food bank had to increase its reach to serve 250 new families. People who had never had food insecurity were desperately seeking assistance. Many of the food bank’s traditional sources of food were not available, but with the assistance of a generous community, it met the food emergency challenge.
By the time the stay-at-home order ended and the shelter closed on May 15, 2020, EChO client services advocates had successfully secured housing for eight homeless individuals and even found privately donated automobiles for two more women. Since May they have housed 12 additional clients. The effort was noted as client services advocate Amy Lankutis won the “Housing Firsty Award.”
Mary Petrich, director of volunteer services, remembers this trying time with the following observation. “EChO volunteers this year epitomize the concept of positive thinking. They see the bright side of life and the resolve to share that with others. They helped to keep EChO afloat during this time of crisis. They staffed the new food bank, unloaded trucks, stocked shelves and assisted shoppers.”
With the retail store unable to provide the normal level of funding, the leaders and board members had the most challenging environment ever. But even as they addressed their urgent problems, the leaders also managed to focus on the long term by making a bold move to a new location, which will better meet the organization’s future needs.
I think that sometimes we can be lifted-up by being even a small part of something much bigger than we are. As I left the Stadler home that day, I felt that emotion, and I believe that my fellow board members did as well.
Jim Rohrer of Evergreen is a business consultant and author of the bi-books “Improve Your Bottom Line … Develop MVPs Today” and “Never Lose Your Job … Become a More Valuable Player.” Jim’s belief is that common sense is becoming less common. (More about Jim at www.theloyaltypartners.com.)