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Muddy Boots         

The Wear Muddy Boots Blog

Muddy Boots Blog

Leadership never comes from sitting behind a desk....you need to get your boots muddy and get in the field with your employees, customers, clients, vendors, and stakeholders. The more you listen the more you learn. The individual closest to the action generally knows the real story. 

I have been a manager for 40 years, starting with IBM and now leading a non-profit, Episcopal Community Services, in what I hope will be my last professional chapter.  I have a fair amount of scar tissue, which I have come to learn is the best teacher. Leadership can be about talk and vision, but it is way more about deeds. For what it's worth, here are some of my thoughts on the subject of leadership, muddy boots and other stuff I find interesting. 

Thank you for your interest and I welcome your comments and exchange. Ideas and views are better when shared.


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Poverty, Privilege, and Race

Posted by Dave Griffith on August 9, 2018 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)


I was recently invited to speak at Westminster where I am an Alumnus. Given our work they asked me to talk about Poverty, Privilege, and Race. The following are my prepared remarks. 

Good Morning. My name is Dave Griffith, and I graduated in 1972 and served as a trustee from 2004 to 2012. Our 2 children are among the 13 Griffith’s who have graduated from here since 1953. While here I played hockey with Peter Briggs, I was a goalie, and this was when there was no roof on the rink, so basically we were gladiators. From my hairline you will no doubt see the family resemblance between me and my nephew Charlie. His Dad and I are brothers. I went on to Kenyon College in Ohio, and then for 38 years worked in the for profit world. The last 23 years with Modern Group Ltd in Bristol PA, an industrial holding company, where I remain Chairman. I also serve on several public and private boards.


I am currently the Executive Director and Head Coach of Episcopal Community Services. We are a 150-year-old social service agency focus on asking individuals, both participants and stakeholders, to Look Up and Challenge Poverty. We envision a world where opportunity is available to all. We do so on the bedrock values of Dignity, Community, Justice, and Impact.


As an agency we work with some 3000 individuals a year, we are by design a learning organization and by design a thought leader in our space, and we advocate for change to public policy on a local, state, and federal level. I am the first non-priest non-social worker to lead the agency. I am called to this work in part because of some of the early lessons I learned here. Not all of them pretty.


For the record, I am also an old, white, business guy.


Up until five years ago when I started at ECS, I would never have identified myself that way. Having been directly involved in the agency's work has been an education and a wakeup call, these learning have altered my perspective on poverty, gender, and race in America and my purpose today is to share that perspective with you as students and you as faculty. As a community these are issues you need to be in conversation about and take the appropriate actions when opportunity presents itself.


For many of you, this may not be a comfortable conversation. But it is a conversation that needs to be had. Especially, in the halls of education and in places like Westminster.

 

Let me ask you a few questions. If you would please answer me by raising your hand.


How many of you own more than two pairs of pants?

 

How many of you know where you will sleep tonight?

 

How many of you know where you will sleep in a week?

 

How many of you know where you will have dinner tonight?


How many of you know if you were sick where you would go and how it would be paid for?

 

How many of you expect to go to college?

 

How many of you have a home?

 

How many of you have a home that is safe?

 

How many of you expect a job when you graduate with your degree at a living wage?

 

For 15% of Americans, both urban and rural, white, Hispanic, and black, the answer to many of these questions is No.

 

This is in America, the wealthiest country in the world with an average household income of $59,000.

 

It is important that to understand Poverty you understand some of the numbers. So bear with me for a moment and stay with me while I share with you some of the data. There are lots of myths about poverty, let’s look at the hard facts. If you are like me, the data was part of my wake up call.

 

Poverty in America is defined for a family of four at $22,900. A number not adjusted for inflation since 1972. Safety net support is available up to $34,000 regarding food with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), medical with Medicaid and CHIP (Children Health Insurance Program), childcare assistance, early childhood education, out of school time. However, the safety net programs in America decline $1.50 for every additional $1.00 earned.

 

In Philadelphia where I work, the poverty level is 28% of the population or some 400,000 individuals. Half live at 50% of the poverty level, and 100,000 are children under 18. In America, some 1.5 million people live on $2.00/day or less, many on safety net programs, but not all. Poverty and near poverty cuts across race, gender and age demographics.

 


Poverty in America in 1960 was 15%. Today unadjusted for inflation it remains 15%. Apparently, the war on poverty has failed. One could, and I do, argue that the vast majority of social service programs in America are in the maintenance business. What they and all of us need to be is in the changing business.

 

In the Philadelphia region, the 14 federal and state safety net programs cost some $5.8 billion a year. Nationally some 35% of the federal budget is allocated to this space. Despite all of this funding and history, poverty is getting worse.


So what is the “So what” of all these numbers?

 

Poverty will consume us as a nation if we do not deal with it as a nation. 15% and I can argue for larger numbers, is a staggering cost to us as a nation. Left unchecked the social, moral, and economic costs are unacceptable and potentially a threat as critical as any we face. The economic gap is widening, and at some point, we will see social and economic unrest that will make 1968 look like a walk in the park. This is an issue that is very much part of your and my children’s future.


 

 

So what do we as a society do? What do you as a Westminster community do? You are already engaged in the surrounding communities; serving a monthly lunch in Hartford, running two summer academic programs here for underprivileged area students, sending students over spring break for community service projects, and also, of course, your civic engagement courses. But I want to challenge you to raise the bar.

 

 

First become knowledgeable. The roots of today's challenges are historical and influenced by deep seeded issues of economic justice, race, and gender. While we hold the founder’s words that “all men are created equal” as America's guiding light, our history, and frankly our actions, tells us a very different story both then and in today’s context.

 

Poverty is not a choice. No one wants to live in poverty. In fact, some of the most resilient people I know, are participants in our program. Learn the root- causes of poverty. Understand the differences between where and how you live, and someone in poverty. To go deep understand the issues of housing and family stability, of wellness, of education, of financial literacy, and workforce development.

 

The way out of poverty is a job. Not a minimum wage job at $9/hour without benefits, but a living wage of $26/hour with benefits. But a job at $26/ hour or better also starts with a core belief that opportunity with all the prerequisite is available to all. Not handouts, but access. The blunt reality is that core belief is not true.

 

As an old white guy let me name the elephant in the room. It’s called privilege. Of course, the way out of poverty is a job, just like the one I got when I graduated from Kenyon in 1976 with IBM. I worked incredibly hard to get where I am today. I didn’t need welfare; I thought poor people needed to get off their rear end and get a job.


The truth is I was born on third base, and I thought I had hit a triple. I had parents, a home, their network, education, access to opportunity. Yes, I executed when I got there, but a clear path had been laid out for me. Access to opportunity was and is available to me, for many in America, and not just those in poverty, this is directly and uncomfortably not true. For many the truth is they can’t even get into the ballpark. To be clear I am proud of my accomplishments, but I can’t and you cannot make the assumption that the “American Dream” is available to all in our country. Our future as a society depends on changing that reality.

 

Let’s contrast my experience to that of one of our participants at ECS. Shelby, not her real name, is an African American woman living with her Grandmother. She does not know her father and her mother is working the streets and on drugs. She is the fourth generation of her family to live in poverty. She attended a public high school where the attendance is 45%, and the graduation percentage is less. Fewer than 20% of her class will go on to get additional education. Her ambition was to work as a beautician because that was her experience. At 18 she was not sure where she will live when her Grandmother is no longer around, and she contributes all of her income of $7/hour, 35 hours from two jobs no benefits to help pay the utility bills and rent. She has been raped twice. Unlike many of her peers she is not a parent.


Shelby is in crisis 100% of the time. No one in crisis 100% of the time can productively problem solve, let alone lift themselves out of poverty. Placed in the same circumstances, how would you do?


I can tell you the same story 1000 times. Many more complicated, many more tragic.

 

Shelby does not want to be where she is. She sought us out at ECS and working with her we are setting goals to move her out of crisis and put her on a path the will provide her access to opportunity and in time real employment and the chance to break her families cycle of poverty. Shelby now has ambitions to work in marketing and digital media and is in a program at Philadelphia Community College to gain the skills she will need to reach this goal. Her paid internship is more than twice her last two jobs. All we did is provide a safe space, access to resources, and coach her as an individual with potential and the dignity that anyone deserves.


So get educated on the real story of poverty. Get the facts, not the political rhetoric that is so destructive on both sides of the aisle these days. Look at this issue not from your perspective which frankly may be privileged, but walk with a heart that is open to justice, dignity, community and an overwhelming sense of fairness. This is the essence of a Martlet’s values of character, community, involvement and balance.

 

The second thing you can do is when you can and have the opportunity get involved. While financial support helps fund this work, the key to helping break the cycle of poverty is building relationships, mentoring and direct involvement. Every child is one involved adult away from success. For many in poverty there is not such an adult let alone an involved peer.


There are organizations you can join, and work you can do. But please do not be poverty tourist. If you do this work, meet people where they are, get to know them and their stories. Work when you are ready with professionals at an agency and learn to be a coach or a peer to an individual living in poverty. Remember that your experience is not their experience. Understand what it means to be privileged and do not judge. While the scale of this issue is daunting, it starts one individual at a time. Someone helped you. Pay it forward when the opportunity presents itself.


The vast majority of agencies and individuals in this work are in the maintenance business; they tell people what they need rather than listen. I have found if you ask, people will tell you what they need. Be a coach and help them set goals and achieve them. The best brain science tells us that individuals learning to set goals and achieve them move from crisis to control. In fact, the efficacy of such work goes from 30% to over 85%. As an informed volunteer mentor or peer, you can help do this. The lesson is in the story of the fishes. I can give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, and he eats forever. Join the movement, be an agent of change, teach people to fish, help people know what fishing is.


Finally, you can advocate in the appropriate ways available to you. Public policy and funding in this space are designed on science that is 20 to 30 years old and is built around the concept of maintaining people, not helping them change and lift themselves out of poverty.


You can advocate for fair housing, better education, no more regressive benefit funding as income grows. But the single best thing you can promote for is employment, jobs, and a living wage with benefits in America. The way out of poverty is a job. Poverty robs individuals of choice; choices economic wellbeing can provide.

 

With housing, education, and workforce development we can prepare individuals in poverty for the workforce, but where are the jobs? Yes, unemployment is at record lows, but a job at 40 hours a week at $26/hour with benefits and a 25 hour a week job with no benefits at $9/hour both count as individuals employed in the data. The working poor is a large number of the 15%. Understand and challenge the data, see the reality.


Advocate for job creation and job training and critically for individuals in poverty to have the training and access to jobs that are created. Right now there is a lack of individuals in the trades at critical levels. Infrastructure is failing, fund it. New technology jobs, startups. We need incentives to be created that drive real employment and not just for some Americans, but all Americans.

 

Here another elephant is the issue of race, gender and economic privilege. Economic privilege and access is not readily shared. We live in an investor, bottom line, economy; we need to live in one where social impact is a significant element in an investors criteria and not financial returns alone. I firmly believe that government funding will not, on its own. change the level of poverty in America. Our history suggest that public/private partnership drive the most effective programs. Partnerships that leverage inclusion and drive social impact create solutions that work and are driven by the market. 35% of the GDP not spent on safety nets could fund a lot of our other needs.

 

Your generation is the one that I hope will get this right. There is great power in inclusion and social impact investing and you know it intuitively. Hold your elected officials accountable, vote when you are old enough, be an informed citizen and start now. Not just of America, but of the world. When you are in a position to do so hold your community, your employers, and hold yourself accountable. As an old white guy, it took me 60 years to learn what real equality really looks like. Diversity is a checked box on an EEOC form, inclusion is a seat at the table, social impact is a return that also drives social justice. Our best moments as a country occur when everyone has a seat and return is measured in part by social impact. One can do good and make a profit.


You can make that decision now. How you behave, what you say and write about matters. Every day and in every place. Weather you be a third former, a senior looking towards college, or faculty teaching and coaching our next generation.

 

So I leave you with a few thoughts on poverty, race, and privilege.


First, acknowledge them.


Second, get educated on the facts, the history, and the issues. Understand what works. What is maintenance, what is myth, and what drives change?

 

Third, understand that it is in your interest to deal with these issues as the consequences of not are unacceptable. You and Shelby could have been each other, but for the luck of circumstances. Decide what you stand for, what is acceptable, and what your hopes are for the future, not just for yourselves, but the Shelby’s of this country.


Fourth when you can, reach in, volunteer, become a peer, understand social justice is not a spectator sport. No one wants a handout, what individuals in poverty want is a hand up.


Fifth, once you have done 1-4 advocate, vote, over time drive informed public policy. Understand that your individual behavior on the issues of race, poverty, gender, and privilege speaks louder long term than any letter to the editor and it is something you control, no one else. Look in the mirror.


And finally understand that what happens here on the Hill is an extraordinary opportunity that many individuals do not have access to, let alone are aware that such institutions exist. You can coast, or you can take what you learn here and challenge the status quo. Invest now, to be able to give back later.

 

It is my experience you can and will build a good life, but know a great one is when you do that and give back. You all can be agents of change. Much of what I learned, I learned here. Be curious, ask questions, read, and engage. Years from now the head start you get here will be the basis for success. Use that success to lift all boats.


You will note that one of the core values of ECS is Impact. All that we do is based on the core value that what we do has an impact. If it does not, we stop. Our work demands no less.

 

I suggest to you it is also a good value to have as an individual.

 

Answer one fundamental question? Does what you do make a difference beyond yourself?

 

Life, real living, is not all about being comfortable.


I have come to learn that by doing and facing the uncomfortable, one learns the most, grows the most, and it is rarely fatal. Scar tissue from such experience is the best teacher. You can live in fear of people different than you or you can meet people where they live and find common ground. In doing so you too can look up and challenge poverty. It is my working definition and implementation of Grit and Grace.

 

It is your choice. Choose wisely, but choose, knowing that not everyone has the gift and privilege of choice. Respect that gift.

 

Thank you, it has been my honor to speak with you this morning.

 

Oh, and lest I forget, in your spare time, beat Deerfield.



We hold these truths to be self-evident

Posted by Dave Griffith on July 7, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (1)



I recently had the opportunity to attend a function at Independence Hall. Three individuals, incredibly well done, reenacted Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and some of their interaction around the Deceleration of Independence.


Reread the document. Some excerpts.


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness……….And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”


It Is not new news that these and their colleagues were extraordinary men. Yes, they did not deal with the issue of slavery, gender remained an issue, and yes these were different times, and history casts a romantic image where myth and facts no doubt get blended.


However, what strikes me is the contrast to today and the consequences of the vacuum of “sacred honor” leadership. This is not a red or a blue comment. It is a national, public observation, pointed out in the press, by the pundits, and by the facts.


As a nation what is it we value? We are a nation of immigrants, yet we look to close our borders. We are a nation of merchants, yet we seek to end free trade. We are the wealthiest nation on earth, yet fifteen percent of our population lives in poverty. We are a nation of builders, yet our infrastructure crumbles. We are a nation of innovators and inventors, yet our math and science scores do not reflect a bright future. We are a nation of outdoorsmen, and yet we fail to support clean water and air. We are a nation that values individual freedom, yet the government has grown on many levels out of control.


Where is the “sacred honor” leadership that puts the nation and all of her people ahead of personal greed and gain? Where is the common good that brings our people together, rather than tears at each other’s throats? Where is the civil dialogue that begets comprise and in turn movement and progress? Where is a nation that cares about its future more than the current moment?


We stand on the shoulders of giants. We owe it to them and their sacrifices and to the generations that follow to find common ground. To look in the mirror and elect leadership that we hold accountable to the standards and values of 1776 and the hard lessons learned since then. History and Lincoln tell us that a house divided cannot long stand. We are on the brink. We cannot go back, but we can choose to go forward.


Life, Liberty, and Happiness are worth fighting for, but not just for ourselves. The lesson of history tells us that the good fight is a fight for all people.


I saw a sign the other day. It read, “It’s my Country.“


Yes, it is.


It is self-evident.


The Work Bench

Posted by Dave Griffith on June 23, 2018 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)



It is a point of honor in the book of guys that when something breaks, you have the tools and necessary replacement parts on hand to address the matter. This explains my workbench and storage cabinets. Claw hammers of different weights, rubber mallets, somewhere around 40 screwdrivers of various lengths, sizes, and tip configurations, same for pliers, brushes, spackle blades, wrenches, hex keys, saws, measuring tapes, chisels, wire strippers, power meters, stud finders, (my wife wants to borrow) and a boatload of screws, wire, nails, staples, rivets, electric tape, duct tape, and an assortment of electric drills, saws, screwdrivers, welders, power washers, extension cords, and finally paints both current and ancient and glues that can bond wood, metal, tile, and small children.


It’s not that I dread going to the hardware store. In fact, I view a trip to True Value, Home Depot or Lowes like my wife does Saks. The problem is when I go for what I need for the job at hand rarely is that all that returns home. One can never have enough 9-volt batteries or light bulbs. The last trip to get replacement screens for the back door that the dog blew out, resulted in a volume buy of wire mesh screen that will last several dogs. The point is I will be ready and at a reasonable price. This is the same theory as buying a lifetime supply of paper towels at Costco.


God forbid the project is electrical or plumbing. My partner for life insists I call a professional. This is akin to waving a red flag in front of a bull. Often the results are the same. The beast gets mad and in the end, dies. That said almost all projects short of a space shot have a website that will walk you through step by step and part by part. I consider one of my most significant professional achievements is the replacement of our kitchen garbage disposal with only one trip to Home Depot. No leftover pieces, worked the first time and did not leak. I posted a picture on Facebook and got more likes than a puppy. Men understand this.


The best part of all this is when your children call and ask you for advice or to come help. Teaching your son or daughter how to fix a leaking faucet, check the circuit breaker before you call the electrician, the reason hanging a picture with the right size hook matters, and finally the value of a job well done, tools put back, and the dust vacuumed up.


I can tell a lot about an individual from their work bench or tool box. First, do they have one? Second is it organized? Do they value the right tool for the job? The world can be separated into those who read directions first and those who read them after. Third, do they clean up when the work is done? Finally, will they share their tools and knowledge? Somehow learning the how the first time takes the fear out the next time. There is no substitute for experience.


Not all that different than life.


Faith Flows Freely,Trinity June 10, 2018 Remarks

Posted by Dave Griffith on June 10, 2018 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

With our rector on sabbatical I was asked to speak this Sunday. What follows are my remarks. Several of us have been asked to witness our experiences at Trinity and I was delighted to do so. 


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Good Morning. I am delighted to be with you this morning and participate in the time-honored tradition of being a witness. While I know most of you, for those I don’t my name is Dave Griffith, and Jacqui and I have been attending members of Trinity since 1993 when we moved here from Newtown Connecticut. We raised our family here; we built a life here, and our experience here strongly influenced my call to service at Episcopal Community Services when I retired.

Let's start with today’s Gospel reading:

“The crowd came together again so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

What I hear in these words is the power of a spiritual community, as well as the behavior necessary to fully join. Also, the words invoked by Lincoln that serve as core advice as to the destructive power of a house divided.

So taking these thoughts let me share our story.

In 1993 we came to Solebury, and as we were building our house, we moved into an apartment complex next to Doylestown Hospital. Some of you will recall the winter of 93 was snow and ice, lots of snow and ice, and a small apartment with a 2 and 5-year-old was going to test the system.

Jacqui and I wandered into Trinity the week before the fall house tour, and we were sucked into the community. Helen Montogomery whose husband Monty was my first boss at IBM welcomed us, and within a week the kids were playing at Kyle Evans house, and we were having dinner with Ian and Jane McNeil, and he and I wound up parking cars and started what would become a best friend friendship.

These and many other new friends made that first winter much more bearable. A faith community had put its arms around us and welcomed us into their house.

Time passed, we moved into our house, and Lindsay and Ian grew. Dave Anderson asked me to “help out “ with stewardship, meaning join the Vestry and dig in. Out of that experience came foyer dinners, small groups, and formal stewardship education. The kids as they grew became acolytes, Sunday school participants, helpers at house tour, and the Christmas bazaars. When my daughter went off to boarding school, she asked, and we hosted a brunch for her church moms. Women who had taken her under their wing, taught her to knit, bake, serve tea, and while I can't prove it, shop. They also served as role models of what family, community, and being a strong woman mean. We served in the same role for our friend's children.

A faith community had put its arms around us and welcomed all of us into their house.

Jacqui and I went on to serve on the Vestry, me as finance warden and she as outreach and then strategic planning. Dave Anderson, our priest at the time, was impossible to say no to, must be a seminary course you take. In the late 1990’s we started to plan for expansion as we were growing. I taught Sunday school with Kin Sager and Sharon Burd. Years later one student would be on my Vestry, and the other came to work for me at Modern. I am not old; they are just young, but Jen still calls me Mr. Griffith. I was asked to cook a few lobsters with brothers faithful and true. That number now stands over 20000 and those brothers are indeed faithful and true.

A faith community had put its arms around us and welcomed us into their house and now was asking us to do the same.

Mother’s Day weekend, the phone rings and the church is on fire. Arson we would learn, and the community comes together and grows stronger, our youth leads us. We worship in the elementary school and out of the ashes we build a new school, repair the Chapel and build the sanctuary we are in today.

In the devastation, a faith community had put its arms around all of us and taught us that a church is not a building.

The Andersons leave, and we call a new Rector. It does not go well, and we learn that Mark was right. If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. We go through a tough time; we lose our way, we stop listening. People leave, people, hurt, but slowly we heal, we call an interim rector Emory Bynum, and he asks Lorri Perkins and me to serve as wardens. We are in the midst of a recession, and my business is demanding all of my time, but my church is calling. It becomes one of the most rewarding experiences of my life leading me to accept the job as Executive Director at ECS when I step away from day to day at Modern.

A faith community had put its arms around us and welcomed us into their house, and through service, we grow and learn what is important in our faith.

We call Rick and Ellen. Ginny continues as our ever-present assistant. Tim still tickels the keys. Together they bring a new life and worship to this place. Times change. We say goodbye to good and faithful servants. My sister in law Anne, Monty Montogomery, Doug McArthur, Ian and Jane McNeil to name a few.

The ministry I am most proud of is the reaching out we do to each other when we are in need. My call has been to help individuals, young and old seeking employment and reach into my network and experience and coach them through the process. My great joy is that more than a few folks have landed employment, but not because of my network or sage advice, but as I learn, because they were not alone.

A faith community has put its arms around us and welcomed us into their house and asked us to do the same. Know that as a community we are never alone.

And so we welcome new families, new children, new individuals. The times change, and programs vary, the community around us changes, but a faith community on the not so quiet hill in Solebury still stands. And it welcomes us into this house and continues to ask us to do the same for the strangers among us and not just on this hill, but hills far and wide, for there is need everywhere.

And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

So let me witness this here and now and I call on you to do the same.

Trinity is a bedrock in my life, not the building but the community and through the faith that flows so freely here. We give freely of our time, our treasure and our talents to this community and it has given so much more back than we have provided.

We all are asked to live into our baptismal covenant as individuals, but also as a people of God, bound by a common faith.

Will you love your neighbor as yourself? And the people answer. We will

Will you respect the dignity of every human being? And the people answer. We will

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? And the people answer. We will.

We are indeed not perfect, and as Adam and Eve, we are flawed from the beginning. But when we answer ”We will” to our baptismal covenant as both an individual and as a community of faith, and we truly live into the promises of the resurrection; and our “we wills” turn into intentional actions. When we do that, we stand as a witness to the power of Gods love, God’s forgiveness, and the joy of letting his word being our guide.

Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

I stand as a witness that this is true. I thank you all, past, present, and those who will come, for making this so. May we welcome as we have been greeted. Together let us reach out to the stranger, the broader community, and together answer our universal call to service. In doing so witness, stand as examples, and share that which we have and that which we experienced with all our brothers and sisters.

For here faith flows freely.

And the people answer. We will.

Amen.

 


On the water

Posted by Dave Griffith on May 28, 2018 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I am up to my wader belt in sixty-degree water. The sun is dancing on the surface, and the ripples are in and out of shade from the overhanging trees. A short waterfall is on my left, and a deep pool is in front of me and runs along the far bank on my right. I am casting a six weight rod and line with a caddis and sinking grees nymph set up. For me, this is about as good as it gets.

I get a rise in front of me at about 35 feet. Then a second. I cast and lay the fly about a foot in front of the last rise. The indicator starts its drift in the current. I can't feel the line, but the cork does its job and disappears with a hit. I lift my rod sharply and set the hook.

I reel in the excess line and start the dance. The fish runs for the bottom, then turns, then breaks the surface. We do these steps three or four times, each time I can bring in more line. As the fish tires, I get my net and look to bring the fish over its submerged opening.

The fly is barbless, as we fish catch and release, and for a second I let the line slack. In a flash, the fish spits the fly and is gone.

The pool grows still again. The waterfall the only sound. I check the fly, strip some line and cast back into the moving foam of the falls.

It does not matter if I catch a fish. It only matters that the soul restores in the attempt.

Prayer takes many forms.

That is the beauty of fishing.


The Summer Job Lift

Posted by Dave Griffith on April 30, 2018 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)


Across the region, a time-honored transition is occurring. The school year is ending, and summer vacation begins. For many young adults, this is also the time for early resume building to occur in the form of a summer job, summer internship, summer camps or travel that provides exposure and experience.

In large parts of our region, such a transition holds no such sets of experiences. For many, the summer is a time when the experience gap widens, and the associated access such opportunities provide only grow more distant.

In the cycle of intergenerational poverty, one of the distinguishing attributes is the lack of experiences and exposure to the opportunity that many of us take for granted. A summer job teaches both the hard and soft skills necessary to perform in the workplace as well as a modest income. A summer internship allows an individual to learn about a career field and learn what it takes to chart a career in a given industry. Understanding the skills required for a given vocation often drives a focus in school and the importance of a degree and/or professional skill. The networking that occurs often set the stage for a later interview and perhaps employment.

The good news is that across the city there exist many programs that serve to close this experience gap. At Episcopal Community Services we are members of PYN, the Philadelphia Youth Network, and together we provide paid internships four days a week and the one day of professional development for eight weeks over the summer months. Working with a network of for-profit businesses and nonprofit agencies we are able to place 130 young people in summer employment. Also, we extend our Out of School time program to summer camps where some 700 youth participate and gain both STEM experiences and other activities.

The data shows that individuals who have such experience are more likely to graduate high school, go on to additional education or professional training, and land employment that gives them the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty that grips our region.

We know that the way out of Poverty is a job. One with a living wage, benefits, and a career path based on performance. Income provides the opportunity for stable housing, wellness, ongoing education, and the chance to participate as a full member of society.

The challenges are quite simply the numbers. Philadelphia’s poverty rate is 28 percent, and the number of youth needing employment and professional development and mentoring is significant and not just in the summer.

If you are an employer, consider participating in summer hiring. Better yet allocate some of your hirings to the population that is experiencing poverty. Invest in mentoring and professional development for individuals experiencing poverty. If you can coach or mentor a youth reach out to one of the many agencies that run such programs, get trained and volunteer. Provide financial support so such programs can scale to meet the demand.

Poverty will consume us as a society if we do not challenge its grip on our brothers and sisters. The long and short-term costs are staggering. We ignore the issue at our peril, and the solutions lie in our collective action, not in our collective avoidance of the issues.

Together the cycle of poverty can be broken and if you are in a position to hire, mentor, coach, or contribute you are part of the solution. Help provide the opportunity to a young adult, and in doing so challenge poverty.

My Prayer

Posted by Dave Griffith on April 11, 2018 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

My Prayer

Lord watch over family, guide, and protect them.

Watch over the people and animals that we love and those we do not know.

Look over and bestow your blessing on the good people of ECS.

Lift up the individuals we serve and give them the strength and courage to overcome all that is before them.

Given me the heart and wisdom to do your will and to lead with humbleness, humor, grit, and grace.

When we are called Lord, guide us and show us the way.

Let us know the stranger among us so that they can be strangers no more.

Give us the courage to be a witness to the truth, to listen with intention, and be a light for your work.

May we know the power of your name and be your instrument in this world.

Amen


A Call in the Night

Posted by Dave Griffith on March 25, 2018 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)


It is rarely good news when the phone rings late at night. The same when your text reads “ Call, it’s urgent.” Such was the case last week.


ECS is made up of some 150 individuals focused on the issues of intergenerational poverty in the Philadelphia region. The work is challenging, but one thing that makes it less so are the individuals we work with, as they are called to this work, dedicated, and talented. For the most part, we are a close-knit organization. So when we lose one of our own, it is not work, it is family.


Cindy Stewart worked most of her professional life at ECS. First at St Barnabas and then at Third Street. We lost Cindy suddenly to a brain aneurysm a week ago Thursday. She was with us Wednesday and then gone.


Cindy was called to this work, Cared deeply for the individuals we serve, focused on her community, and maintained a faith that gave her both strength and wisdom. She shared that strength and wisdom with everyone, both participants, and fellow employees. She had a sense of humor and a laugh that was infectious. People came to her for advice. Perhaps her greatest strength is she was curious, believed in self-improvement, and if she felt strongly about something was calmly candid in bringing it to your attention. As office manager, she also kept me in Diet Coke.


We gathered as a leadership team Monday and taking a page from our Quaker friends held Cindy in the light and in the quiet invited her colleagues to speak if so-called.


People spoke of an individual who cared, who laughed, whom you could count on, who modeled curiosity and hard work. Who they loved and whom they would miss. They also spoke about her faith and belief in God and that this was not an ending, but a beginning.


I am of an age that I have lost friends and employees. Some with time to say goodbye, some the news came on a late night call. What I realized is that for many of my young managers this was the first time in such a situation, where a peer had passed, and there had been no time for preparation.


I asked them to take a lesson from this experience. That is that we just don’t know what tomorrow holds and that the time we have, is what we have. Use it wisely, speak the truth, act with values, and let the people you care about, know you care. Be thoughtful about how you spend your time.


I have always been mindful that our time is short. It is why I am intentional about the work we do and the individuals we do it with and the impacts we are attempting to create. I feel the same way about family.


God bless Cindy and thank you for her life and her example. It is an extraordinary privilege to work with such individuals, and she is one of many such individuals that carry the water in our work at ECS. While she is gone, we know she is always with us. I take her example to heart and I am grateful she was part of my professional life.


Godspeed and know we hold you and your family in the light.


Peace. You never know when the phone will ring.


Snow Day

Posted by Dave Griffith on March 21, 2018 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)


For the fourth time in March, a Nor'easters have come through Philadelphia. I have not had this many snow days since I was a kid growing up in Connecticut. I have been fortunate in that I have been able to adjust my schedule; I did not have major travel disrupted, I could get work down with technology. My biggest project was getting my chainsaw to start so I could clean up some limbs that broke off from our white pines.

I find lessons in these recent snow days and a contrast sharpened by my work. The one lesson is that of the gift of downtime. Increasingly a rare gift in these times.

Research suggests that blocks of time doing nothing, clearing the head, putting aside all distractions, significantly improve the creative process and the ability to see solutions that may not be apparent in the day to day clutter. Research also tells us that downtime spent with friends, partners, spouses has a direct correlation to the quality of the relationship. Think of the last time you shared a meal without interruption, sat quietly and just read with your significant other in the room, talked without a deadline to make?

You know the research is intuitively correct, yet how many of us create our own snow days? In the age of texting, email, cell phones, AI, and drone delivery, along with the perceived importance of being ???connected,??? a little bit of snow day behavior can be a blessing and perhaps a opportunity to alter our routines.

The other lesson and the sharp contrast are that I know for many of the people we work with there is no downtime, snow days notwithstanding. For individuals in poverty, the ability to rest and take a break is nonexistent. For many crises is a perpetual state. For many, a snow day is a day of lost wages because of the lack of childcare, transportation challenges, or lost shifts.

For many, we take our security for granted, and for us, a snow day is an opportunity to recharge. What I want you to know is that for many that security and opportunity do not exist and a snow day just adds to the stress. And not just on snow days.

Our work at ECS is about dealing with these contrasts in our communities and finding ways to bring opportunity to all. Contrasts that even on snow days are as sharp as the nor'easters that create them.

Innovation

Posted by Dave Griffith on March 10, 2018 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)


Innovation



The challenge with any system built on processes and best practices is that once designed and implemented they immediately start to become obsolete. The cause is not necessarily inferior design or execution. The reason is that the market, technology, and knowledge changes with every minute in every day.


The tension is systems, with the associated processes, training, and infrastructure are expensive. In the world of social services where systems provide services, government support with the associated audit measurements is often explicitly tied to established processes. The unintended consequences are many contracts linked to research and approaches that are ten to fifteen years behind current best practices.


So two challenges. The first is how can government funding in the social service sector shift with confidence to the most current best practices that drive the most profound impacts. In a sector where maintenance is often the standard, and many agencies have vested interests in maintaining the status quo, how do we shift to funding and processes that support programs that drive fundamental change in participants lives?


The second challenge is how do agencies undertake the process of innovation on a continual basis and drive innovation into their culture. The first is the need to have a radar function. In that how does an agency keep abreast of the latest requirements of their participants, the most current technology to both track data and information and drive productivity, and finally the most current research and its implications for their work?


I would suggest that concerning funding, is that the sector builds an advocacy function that is politically effective and built on the algebra that long-term maintenance is vastly more expensive than programs that lift an individual out of poverty.


Concerning agency innovation, I would look for the following. With whom do you benchmark? Do you track your impacts and outcomes and react to the information? Do you have a radar function and do you formally evaluate your programs against the most current information? Can you demonstrate impact to social impact investors and foundations and build a nongovernment revenue stream? Do you have a culture that fosters innovation in that pilots, small projects, failure, and open, honest feedback are part of your everyday workflow? I have long believed that the people closest to work, know the most about the work. This is true both in and outside of your organization. What is your process to engage with people closest to the work. A question I love to hear is “ so what does this mean to us?”


Evolution is a constant process.

The question is how are you going along for the ride?

Remember dinosaurs no longer roam the earth.

To quote, “You innovate, or you die.”



We are at War,let's act like it

Posted by Dave Griffith on February 17, 2018 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (1)


Despite recent events, I am cynical about our political will or our ability to enact effective gun control or fund essential mental health programs and processes that can efficiently prevent another child or citizen being killed by an unstable individual with an automatic weapon.


So while I am not happy about that reality, I have been doing some executive math lately supported with some data sourced from my favored source of truth, Google.


There are about 150,000 schools in the United States from elementary to 4-year college institutions as of 2013.


Since January 1st of 2018, there have been eight school shootings where at least one death has occurred.


The anticipated cost for the proposed border wall is seven to ten billion.


The odds of meaningful gun control legislation based on history is zero. Under the proposed Presidential budget mental health and behavioral health spending is significantly cut.


Ten billion would fun a one-time investment in each school in America some $66,000 for security upgrades or fund a well trained armed guard for a year.


I am not sure how many illegal immigrants are crossing the borders with AR-15 ’s, but apparently, there is any number of individuals with automatic weapons crossing the thresholds of our schools and checking into Las Vegas hotels.


In the absence of the political will to reform gun ownership that respects the intent of the second amendment and protects children and the lack of funding and systems to address chronic mental health issues, which are a factor in these shootings, one has to look to other options. Doing nothing is not an option here.


Surely funding is available to protect children attending schools? While not the ideal solution, the genie is out of the bottle. Guns are readily available and even with the political will gun control is a long-term cleanup. Given mental health funding, we have an even longer road to travel.


I am not a fan of untrained individuals carrying arms for protection. However, funding is available for the training and staffing to provide a level of a deterrent in our schools beyond the current level.


If you can fund a wall that is not all that necessary, surely we can support a higher level of protection for our children and do so now.


Let's  get our priorities in order and enough talk. If we are not going to implement gun control, if we are not going to address mental health as a meaningful level, then at least let's build a wall of protection in the right place and do it now.


Look if one shoe bomber can create the TSA airport change in the check-in process, you would have to think a 100 school shootings would prompt some federal action.


We are at war, let's act like it.


PHILLY PHILLY

Posted by Dave Griffith on February 7, 2018 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (1)


I want you to hold onto the feeling you had Sunday night, 4th quarter and Tom Brady has the ball with a little over two minutes to go. We are up 5 points and your heart is in your throat.

In your mind, you are replaying the Atlanta game a year ago.

Then for the first time in the game the Eagles defense come through with a QB sack and recovered fumble. Eagles run the clock, put three more on the board and shut down the New England offence as time runs out. 58 years of frustration and loyalty let lose.

It is that moment of collective pure joy for a team, a city, and a region. The last time I had such a feeling I was in the stands for the last game of the Phillies 1980 run.

Pure joy. You are a little kid, for a moment sport is not big business, you feel a pride that your team, underdog, beaten and injured, has triumphed on the field, and as a fan you are very much a part of that journey.

Hold that joy, that feeling, that elation in your heart.

Now turn to your day to day and ponder the following.

How do you take that victory, that joy, that sense of belonging and turn it into something even more powerful?

We are a City and Region facing major challenges. They are easy to excuse away and hand off as someone else’s problem, but they remain real and they are growing.

We all can name them. Poverty, Education, Housing, Wellness, Employment. Issues that 30 percent of our citizens’ face every day. No one cause and no one solution.

Like the Eagles win, no one player can address these issues, but as a community, as a team coming together and putting the mission ahead of individual performance and agendas we can meet these issues and we can address them. Study the issues, volunteers with your time, treasure, and talent, find an agency that can become your team, get in the game.

Imagine the joy you felt Sunday night as the clock wound down repeating itself as you reach out and care for the stranger and make a difference in both your lives.

It is just as big a win. Actually bigger.

PHILLY PHILLY


A Pin Drop

Posted by Dave Griffith on January 30, 2018 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

My brother recently sent me the following:

“Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when

DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO.

DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of

France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded,

"Does that include those who are buried here?"

DeGaulle

did not respond.

You could have heard a pin drop.”


I share this snippet because it is a useful reminder that all over the world American servicemen and women are defending America's interests and those of our allies. Increasingly it is becoming challenging to align our interests given the leadership in Washington, but we need to be mindful that young man and women put their life on the line to defend the Constitution and in turn our way of life. They deserve clarity in our national strategy and confidence in our leadership, especially our Commander in Chief.


I have family in the military. I have friends whose son and daughters are in the military. We all have individuals we know who are currently on active duty or in the reserves. We all know the famous quote that “freedom is not free’, but the decision to deploy deserves the careful thought that the chain of command is designed to engage in when making such a decision. I pray that the concept of “legal orders” is not lost on our President or the chain of command.


As a reminder: “e Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) 809[890].ART.90 (20), makes it clear that military personnel need to obey the "lawful command of his superior officer," 891.ART.91 (2), the "lawful order of a warrant officer", 892.ART.92 (1) the "lawful general order", 892.ART.92 (2) "lawful order". In each case, military personnel have an obligation and a duty to only obey Lawful orders and indeed have an obligation to disobey Unlawful orders, including orders by the president that do not comply with the UCMJ. The moral and legal obligation is to the U.S. Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders, especially if those orders are in direct violation of the Constitution and the UCMJ.”


A reminder for any leader to deploy lies in the fields at Arlington and our other national cemeteries, and in resting places all over the world and in sacred grounds reserved not just for Americans. The price of conflict is an absolute for any country. We will answer the call as we always have, let us not do so lightly. I pray that our current administration does not treat such a decision as a reality show, that the wisdom of our President’s Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs, and National Security Chief can calm the decision-making process. These men have tremendous scar tissue, and we know that scar tissue is the best teacher. They are men of character, and they understand the price paid in any conflict. If we must act, and the world may require us to do so, let it be based on our core values and our real national interests and obligations.


The political process is in place for a reason, as are the three branches of our government. As citizens, the obligation to participate in our process has never been higher, nor has the threat to that participation in recent memory for many been greater. Let us call on all three branches to do their job.


Perhaps we need to listen for the pin?


Better yet, to act before it is dropped.

Leadership Thoughts

Posted by Dave Griffith on January 23, 2018 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Every time I read another tweet, read a newspaper or listen to the news, regardless of the station I find myself needing to reset my definition of leadership. To do so I turn to a guiding, bedrock quote. Perhaps Congress could take note.


"Leadership is hard, and it is rewarding. It is about doing the right thing, not the popular thing. It is about being confident in yourself and wise enough to take the advice of those you trust. It is about understanding the facts, not the emotion. It is about being fair to all, not just a few. It is about courage and vision. It is about humor and humility.


It is about putting yourself in the hands of a higher power and having the faith to let that power guide your actions. It is never about the talk, it is all about the deeds.”

A Day of Service vs. A Life of Service

Posted by Dave Griffith on January 16, 2018 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (1)


Across America today in many communities individuals and organizations have gathered to give a day of service. They do so in honor of Dr. King's legacy. In my part of the country, the day comes in cold weather, and the needs of the homeless and hungry are particularly significant.


As I wrote last month, this work on a holiday is always appreciated and always needed, but perhaps the highest value is highlighting the need for individual and organizational service year round.


What would it look like if part of our economic routine was time devoted to service? I recently become aware two local businesses who by design donate 10 percent of their annual profits to charity. I know of several others that are like minded. What is interesting is they also support their employee's service efforts in their respective communities. You are no doubt aware of the excellent work supported by company and family foundations.


The other emerging trend is that of Social Impact Investing. We are increasingly seeing investors looking at projects, and in addition to economic returns, they are looking for social impact. It might be in the form of job creation, environmental impact, providing affordable housing, or improved educational technology and processes. A little less return, but one with an intentional social implication.


What I appreciate is the notion that our significant social challenges are increasingly seen as not just a government issue that we as taxpayers leave in government hands. Instead, there is a movement afoot to deal with these problems as individuals and businesses in a shared community.


It is here that I see faith-based institutions and social service agencies, like ECS where I work, as both an agent of change and as a convener of like-minded individuals and organizations. We need to acknowledge that this work is complicated and challenging. That scale and resources matter and that there is little need for competition among like-minded individuals and organizations.


Think about the impact if rather than a day of service, we committed to a life of service? That if all our actions and investments held an element of social impact? Scale matters and is a given when we consider the size of the issues we face as a country. I do not doubt that we are capable of such actions. My fear is do we have the will?


Think of the impact of such service driven by all of us, informed as light and love.


"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Dr. M.L. King.

.

Join the movement.


Is the curve dead ?

Posted by Dave Griffith on January 6, 2018 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)


"The Phillips curve given by A.W. Phillips shows that there exists an inverse relationship between the rate of unemployment and the rate of increase in nominal wages. A lower rate of unemployment is associated with higher wage rate or inflation, and vice versa.”


42 years ago I graduated with a joint History and Economics degree from Kenyon. The Phillips curve was a core principle of any Macro track in economics. Today on the way home with Bloomberg Radio on the discussion centered on why the relationship is not in play in today’s US economy.


The reason I find this a fascinating subject is twofold. One, wages are not increasing in relation to the economy, as good as it is reported to be, and with inflation taken into consideration, one could make a case for stagnant wages. Also, too many segments of our population, while employed, wages are low relative to a living wage. Second, looking at the company boards I serve on, the ability to grow margin is one of the most significant issues. On analysis, increasing benefit costs is one factor, but the interesting one to me is the loss of pricing friction due to technology.


Specifically, one could hold and grow prices when information on availability, specifications, delivery convenience, and product information was part of a firms value add. In today's internet world along with the supply chains explosion, that friction is near zero. You can research, purchase, and have delivered almost any product at the most competitive price. In a commodity world holding margin is increasingly difficult. Great for consumers, not so much for employees.


The de facto result of the loss of price friction is business forced to reduce costs, and after costs of goods sold, labor is often a firm's most significant expense. The result is the growth of part-time, low wage, low benefit labor, the growth of automation, and the growth of the self-employed in a growing “gig” economy. Shareholders demand profits and a traditional response is what we most often see.


My point, especially given my current work with poverty, is that traditional thinking is not going to restore the Philips curve relationship and in fact, it may no longer be valid.


Employment is the way out of poverty, but jobs with a living wage, benefits and the opportunity for growth through performance.


We need to rethink our workforce development programs along with our vocational education tracks to get people ready for these new jobs. In addition, we need to create business models where returns are considered not only in absolute terms but also the social impact. Investors need to look for profits that are both absolute, but also create employment with living wages.


Perhaps a different tax plan would drive better social behavior and in turn, reduce social safety net spending. It is one thing to have a trained workforce; it is another to have work for them to do. Public policy can create the path here, and the private sector can nimbly respond. Most business I know has a skill gap. That gap is only the start to address job growth; we need a much more substantial response that drives real job growth.


Much of this work is connecting the dots that drive the right outcome. The real prize is in implementing the changes that will change employer behavior and provides employment that lifts all of us.


Time to change the curve.


Who says economics is dull?


Leadership in the New Year

Posted by Dave Griffith on January 1, 2018 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)



As we enter into 2018, I have been reflecting on leadership. Upon review, I have concluded that organizations crave leadership; the good ones get it from every member.

When I look at high functioning organizations, they focus on talent, and they focus on their mission, vision, and values. What is it that you do? What does it look like when it is right, and how do you roll as you go about your work. Mission, Vision, and Values are just words on paper until you add talent. It is talent that makes an organization work, but talent that has the freedom and authority to leverage the organization's mission and vision with their skills and insights along with their peers and partners.

So how does that environment look? How does it get created and nurtured?

Some observations:

1.Relentless focus on talent in the hiring process and care and feeding once on board.

2.An early seat at the table in most decisions.

3.That clear communication of organizational goals and purpose is the norm in all things. The how and the why of any action. With a focus on whom do we serve?

4. The ability to challenge process and approaches.

5. Ability to pilot without a fear of failure.

6. Data and fact driven. Learn and grow as we do and have an environment of accountability. Performance matters.

7. The willingness to invest in people. To be a learning organization.

8. The desire to have a significant alumni association. Success breeds opportunity for individuals and attracts new talent. Embrace and celebrate mobility.

9. That senior leadership’s role is to coach, to wear muddy boots, to be intentional where they spend time, and allow elephants to be named and dealt with safely. If you tell talent what to do, one of you is redundant.

10. Everyone wears nine hats. No one is above any job.

Senior leadership is about leverage. How best to mix Mission, Vision, Values, and Talent to create impact. Sometimes the hardest part of being a head coach is knowing the game is played with you on the sideline. The hard part is who do you put on the field, what is the game plan, and how do you adjust once the game is underway?

That said, the real work gets done on the field of play. So if this is indeed the case, why wouldn’t you spend your time on the game plan and the players you put in the contest?


Organizations crave leadership;

the best ones get it from every member of the team.


With that as a focus, I suspect 2018 could be a pretty good year.

Make your own luck, leadership, and godspeed.

Happy New Year.



ECS Employee and Board Message

Posted by Dave Griffith on December 23, 2017 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)


Our families traditional note at this time of year is:


In this season of Peace, we pray for Peace.

In this season of Joy may you find it.

In this season of Hope may you have it and give it.


To that, I add


I wish you a Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Kwanzaa,

I acknowledge and pay respects to Eid al-Fitr,

moreover, Merry Christmas.


Regardless of your tradition, and we honor all, I thank you for your service to the individuals we serve at ECS and your dedication to the work that we do together

to “Challenge Poverty.” One story. A young boy was in tears at one of our OST Christmas parties. When asked why he told one of our colleagues that he was told by his Mom not to open his present until Christmas day because it was the only present he would get. In his excitement, he had opened it along with his friends, and now he was worried. Your colleague took the young man and rewrapped his gift and made his world a little more comfortable.


You all make a substantial lift every day, but it is the thousands of small moments that make your and our work significant to the people we serve. I am honored to work with you, and I wish you and your family and loved ones, peace in this season of peace, joy, and my thanks that in this season of hope you do so much to bring it to the people we serve.


In my tradition, the birth of Jesus marks the greatest gift we ever receive and the challenge to extend that gift to the world at large. That gift is at the core of our work. Peace, Joy, and Hope.


You all have my most profound appreciation, respect and thanks.


Dave G

Head Coach



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