How a family situation helps with focusing on the right things!

It has been a month since I last wrote a blog entry - much too long of a time I realize! This is not a blog re: my personal life but I do want to explain the reason for the absence. I had been on vacation earlier in August dealing with issues with my mom whose health has been steadily declining. She lives in an assisted living facility outside of Detroit. Ten days ago, my mom was admitted to the hospital and likely will be there for a few more days. My time has been devoted to her and arranging next steps relating to her care. I've returned to work this week but will be back on the highway to the east side of the state later this week.

Enough of that . . . I've had a lot of time to reflect on many things as I sort through family issues and the like. My reflections have focused on the issue of the difficulty of working at times with key partners in our community. Experiencing my current personal crisis, as is usually the case, helps to prioritize what is really important and those things that simply are annoying and petty. What is really important is the strength of this community and the people and organizations that are working together to address the real "knotty" issues facing us.

We are working on creating more affordable housing options as well as addressing the foreclosure situation and the people who are suffering from losing their homes. GRCF didn't just jump into this as we've been at it for many years.

We are focusing on providing needed health and human services at school based sites for children and families. Frankly when this effort, the Kent School Services Network, was initiated four years ago, the large coalition involved hoped that one of the results would ultimately help make a positive impact on academic achievement. That goal met with some defensiveness from school system administrative leaders who didn't understand or didn't want to understand that this wasn't about them or their system. It is about taking the pressure off families and thus helping the child/student come to school ready to learn. It has been a long journey and so many more barriers and obstacles than what is necessary.

We are focusing on bringing greater awareness to area nonprofits as well as our own organization about the entire concept of cultural competency - embracing difference and celebrating it! We have created two publications regarding "Cultural Competent Communications" as one of the many things being done in these area. Also we have been delving deep into this with our staff over the past two years including a team of 6 people who are participating in an effort through the Council of Michigan Foundations regarding Diversity and Inclusion. This is a major priority of this Foundation and I'll write more about this over the next few months.

There are other key priorities but time constraints prevent me from detailing those areas so more to come in future blogs.

Crisis does help prioritize life's list of "to-dos" and my priorities are right where they need to be right now. And the Foundation's priorities are right where they need to be as well. They are constantly reviewed and discussed by our talented and bright staff and board team! We are headed in the right direction to lead, collaborate, and address those knotty issues!