Reimagining Our Future

As a servant of this region who’s lived, worked, and studied in many different environments, I am sensitive to the issues facing our region. And as I reflect on the work of my predecessors, I’m mindful that the challenges people in our community face today are the same issues of generations past. Financial instability, lack of affordable housing, scarcity of quality meals, poverty: these are familiar. And yet our collective community response must be anything but.

Our aspirations for change must be ambitious and our approaches innovative and collaborative: every child will succeed; every adult will be self-sufficient; every family will be strong; every older adult will be independent; every individual will be healthy; and every neighborhood will be safe.

Daily, committed people and strong organizations throughout our community work to support our neighbors aspiring to live their best possible lives. Yet, our ability to explore new methods to move the needle on stubborn issues is slow compared to what is possible.

As community needs increase, traditional approaches to address them are no longer enough, and funding bodies and individuals invested in seeing our region overcome its toughest challenges must invest in and incent comprehensive collaborations with the expectation that we will achieve better life outcomes for people. Because we often work alone and in silos, we fall short in mobilizing and harnessing the collective energy that our communities and organizations possess. The people we help can achieve success when we empower them with hope and foster dignity, independence, and self-reliance. And individuals will realize independence and self-reliance more quickly when human service organizations commit to partner with one another to achieve outcomes no single program can accomplish alone.

So, how do we build upon the lessons learned of past leaders to overcome our region’s challenges? By keeping an eye to the past lessons learned and an expectant focus on the future possibilities. Let’s start by eliminating duplicative programs that are not making a measurable difference in improving lives. Let’s take some risks inspired by imagination. Let’s dig in to our unrelenting will to succeed and harness the army of collaborators our community possesses. Let’s maximize our existing human and financial resources. Only together we can overcome our region’s greatest challenges.

By Orv Kimrough

Originally published at

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