As you walk, you cut open and create that riverbed into which the stream of your descendants shall enter and flow. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis
When I took on the directorship at Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance, Inc. (Good Neighbor) in July 2018, I imagined that this was a new beginning for me and for the agency. It only took me a few days to realize that it was not a new beginning for either of us. Good Neighbor had not experienced an ending of any sort with the transition of leadership, there was no need to begin again. It was easy for me to realize that the stream I was already walking in, the work I’d been doing prior to Good Neighbor, would naturally flow into Good Neighbor’s stream.
I love to think of life and experiences in terms of metaphors. And I love the idea that, at Good Neighbor, I am navigating a twenty-something year old river bed that has a small but prolific source. We are both now winding our way to a delta I like to call the greater good.
I have visited the mouth of the Mississippi River numerous times in Lake Itasca State Park, my family often camps on an island in nearby Cass Lake. To see the small stream that is easily walked across does not begin to hint of the depth and width the stream will become. By the time the river flows in and out of other lakes and makes its way to Iowa’s eastern border, it is greatly changed, unrecognizable as the trickle of water my children hopped through.
Of course there are many smaller, and one longer, rivers and streams that flow into the Mississippi on the way to its final destination, the Gulf of Mexico. If Good Neighbor were a river, it’s hard to know where it is currently on its way to its delta, its greater good.
Just like in managing a business, it’s always good to have a map, an idea, of where the journey down the river will end, or if it will end. Before we can make plans for the destination we need a strong knowledge of where we are now. I can honestly say that after six months with Good Neighbor, I am becoming confident in recognizing where we are, and what is needed for the journey ahead.
Many people in Ames remember Good Neighbor at its source, the small agency run 100% by volunteers distributing assistance to those in need. Some people tell me of times when new programs came in, and when programs fell away. Sort of like a river winding, flowing through a small glacial lake, then tightening around a rocky bend.
No matter what the river scape or flow, Good Neighbor stayed on it course, its mission to provide emergency rent, utility, food, and transportation assistance to our neighbors in Story County, in an atmosphere of dignity, comfort, and encouragement.
I am honored to co-navigate the path ahead. You may have already heard of small changes to our hours and our vouchers. Technology upgrades and client an donor management systems are more important than ever as the volume of water and width of the stream increases. Fortunately, we have partnership with the United Way of Story County, Leadership Ames, ISU, and Ames High School to navigate these new waters. We are also setting our course to travel more closely to the course being set by our community partners in collaboration – Emergency Residence Project, City of Ames, Salvation Army, and Story County Community Services.
I appreciate your trust in me as the new Good Neighbor director. I’m learning the way, steady at the helm, through strong currents and shallow narrows. Keep following us, keep supporting us, keep asking for help from us if you need it. With your continued support we’re safely heading for the delta of greater good.
In your service,
Lori Allen, Director