Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Annual Report

         In 2016 InterServ completed a monumental and worthy undertaking, raising $5 million in the “Building InterServ” capital campaign with the help of the community and our loyal donors. We recognized this blessed journey with our interfaith gathering this past October when the ground was blessed, building designs were shown, and close to 10-years of planning, fundraising and prayer had been finalized with work to begin construction of a new InterServ Community Center.
And now as witnessed at the corner of King Hill Avenue and Cherokee Street, we are in the initial construction phase of building the 24,000 square-foot community center which will serve this community with vital services that promote the common good.
But this was not the only facility and programming works that were completed in 2016.
As part of our construction plans it was necessary to relocate two programs. InterServ moved the Free Clothing Store to the 8th Street Drop-In Center – 625 8th Street – and we relocated our Southside Early Care and Education program to a renovated home - 125 Illinois Ave - after being housed at the Wesley Center for more than 90 years.
In regard to addressing the crucial need for affordable decent housing for seniors – the renovation of St. Francis Apartments and King Hill Apartments totaling over 160 units of senior housing were completed, making them viable for the next 25-years.  And, King Hill Addition, 24 units located in the south side, will see their improvements completed in 2017.
And while these improvements and new facilities highlight 2016, we continue to celebrate the ongoing success of an organization that InterServ helped form 14 years ago. Community Missions began with the formulation of a cold weather shelter and resulted in the development of permanent supportive housing resources; St. Joseph’s Haven and Juda House. Today, Community Missions has a separate board, viable funding sources and named a new executive director.
Currently, we are seeing increases of persons experiencing the effects of poverty, a growing percentage of aging in the population, disparities in rich and poor, and prejudice and discrimination. InterServ continues to enhance our supportive services to address and counter those impacted by social ills of our day, just as this mission of service has done for over the past 100 years.
Some enhanced programming in 2016 includes after-school meals for our youth program, slight increase of state funds so we are able to provide a greater and more effective response to families in crisis. New programming includes the acquisition of a home care organization, Crossroads Home Care, which we now manage more clients and the work of InterServ staff to accomplish objectives that better addresses the needs of our workforce, remaining cost-effective in the services we provide.
And we are always mindful of our partnerships in this blessed endeavor, support from United Way of Greater St. Joseph, United Methodist Women, Heartland Presbytery, United Church of Christ and many other faith-based and community organizations that also see the need in our community and look to address those needs.
Each year thousands of people are served.  We as staff, board and volunteers remain grateful and mindful of your support that makes this compassionate response to people in need possible. We also know that the future always holds opportunities and challenges. And now with the start of construction we envision opportunities in a complex where faithfully serving people provide leadership, compassion and examples of the servant and advocate to meet the challenges faced. It is the advocate that calls us to be mindful of and guided by the social teaching of the gospel - and the servant always working in the knowledge that God’s goodness prevails.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Changes for the Better

“Perception is everything” – Pete Chapman – former MWSU Director of Athletics.
This was one of many mantras that Mr. Chapman wanted to instill in every part of Western athletics during his tenure as the lead man. He used this saying as motivation to achieve objectives and goals.
However, in some cases perceptions are skewed. Such is the case I came across at St. Joseph’s Haven.
I first caught a glimpse of him at the ripe age of 14 in 1984. I was a freshman hot-shot playing shortstop for my local high school and he was my opposite number, but a seasoned junior instead of a gangly freshman. When it wasn’t my turn at the plate, I watched him play intently. I gathered up as much visual information as I could from someone that was obviously better than I was.
Over the years we played against each other both in high school and summer ball. We also competed after the school years were over in a local softball league. I always thought he was a good athlete and ball player. He never said a whole lot, but also didn’t come across as someone you would not want to get to talk with at any time.
Fast-forward to October 2016. While working an event at St. Joseph’s Haven, I spotted him again. For the first time in 20 years, the guy that I competed against and watched intently from a distance was here. But why?
I turned to Dee Ann Stamper, assistant at the Haven and posed the question. “What’s (name withheld) doing here?“ She replied,“he got approved last week and moved in.” She then informed me that he has memory issues and what doctors feel are the initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s’ Disease. He has been bouncing around from place to place, not remembering where he was, where he worked, and sometimes what time of day it is.
My heart sunk a bit.
I had always heard the saying “life is fragile,” but didn’t really understand that until watching him get in line for food at the Haven. Again, as I did 20 years ago, I found myself watching him, this time from a homeless shelter. I could have walked up to him, slapped him on the back and said “Hello.” But, would he remember me? Would he know that we competed on the same field? Would he even care?
The perception of those with mental illness and or disabilities varies from person to person. Those who work in those fields, such as our caregivers at CMC, know how mental illness and disabilities can affect people and work on a daily basis to provide supportive services for them. But for someone like me, who only knows how it affects me personally, needs an education on mental illness and the disabled and how sometimes it renders them homeless.
To start the learning process, sometimes you need your heart to sink a little bit to really understand. It happened to me.
Brett King