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A Change Pivot

Posted by Dave Griffith on February 10, 2017 at 10:35 AM

I remember clearly the first time I was told that change is constant and that if you don’t adapt, you die, and that change is what happens. On reflection that was harsh advice for a 5 year old on the passing of his dog, but setting that aside, the observation has, as we all know, proved out. The evidence is overwhelming. No comment on the parenting skills.

So why do we fight it?

For some it is because if you are currently comfortable, change could make you uncomfortable. For some it is fear, as anything new is unknown and therefore we see the worst case as the most likely. For some, change is seen as a challenge to individual values and beliefs and for the most part we do not like to rock these boats.

If history teaches us nothing else, it is that stability is fleeting. It also teaches us that the ability to anticipate, adapt, renew, and grow is essential. It also tells us that fundamental core values can provide the foundations on which we can thrive in a complex and ever changing environment.

So let me bring this conversation back to Episcopal Community Services where I work. We have looked at ourselves as a staff and board and we have looked at the region and the people we serve and we have concluded our 145 year old agency needs to pivot.

We went off and asked what are our core mission, vision and values. We concluded that our mission is to “Look up and to challenge poverty”. We do not accept that 28 percent of the region living in poverty is acceptable. Our vision, albeit aspirational, is we “envision a world where access to prosperity is available to all” To steal a phrase, a hand up, not a hand out. We identified 4 core values of, impact, justice, dignity, and community; each with a bedrock definition to all of our stakeholders. We then, with research and thought, identified the best science to deliver results and inform our work, and we concluded that a model of economic mobility and mentoring is the best available and we are in the process of training ourselves in the “Empath model” out of Boston with the intent to both integrate the science into current programs and create new ones focused specifically on economic mobility. At the same time we have rebranded our agency, see www.ecsphilly.org, and we have added resources in the advocacy, talent development, and data analytics areas. In addition we are looking at our funding streams, governance, and partnership with our diocese and parishes as to current and future best practices. All why keeping the lights on with our current well regarded programs that serve over 2000 individuals and families today.

I am proud of our staff, our board, our partners and the people we serve. We have chosen not to fear change, but to embrace it, name it, and act on it, and in doing so improve the work we do and drive positive impact in our community. We do so with our Episcopal traditions in place and serving as a guide in all that we do. We believe that the combination of our faith tradition and solid social work values gives us a unique capability, one that we can leverage in our work.

We choose to lead. We do not fear change.

Join us,” Look Up, Challenge Poverty”.


Categories: ECS Outreach, Muddy Boots, Leadership

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