A Long and Winding Road
As a new year dawns, many people take a moment to reflect on what was accomplished in the prior 12 months, as they set objectives for the year ahead. The resulting objectives come in many forms, ranging from New Year’s resolutions for some, to annual goals for an organization like CAMP Rehoboth.
In my 2023 columns, I did my best to keep community members informed about the leadership transition process implemented by CAMP’s Board of Directors, using a best practice approach designed to stabilize and strengthen the community center:
• Establish sound governance (welcoming four new board members)
• Hire qualified staff (Kim Leisey, PhD, as our new Executive Director)
• Clarify the current community needs/align CAMP Rehoboth’s mission accordingly (by completing the new strategic plan)
• Secure adequate resources to deliver vital services (more about that later in this column).
Together these steps are known as capacity building: CAMP Rehoboth’s deliberate investment in sustaining and fulfilling its mission. I encourage you to read Board Vice President Leslie Ledogar’s column on page 10 to better understand how all these steps are connected and the outcomes that we hope to achieve.
Many inspirational quotes and sayings come to mind when I think about the time and energy involved with a daunting undertaking like this. Theodore Roosevelt was not kidding when he said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”
At the same time, the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” also resonates with me. Why, you ask? According to Wikipedia, it means “that an entire community of people must provide for and interact positively with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment.” Simply put, none of our progress would have been possible without the support of our dedicated staff, committed volunteers, and the generosity of CAMP Rehoboth’s donors as well as sponsors.
Having served on a few nonprofit boards, I have learned achieving goals is not something left up to chance; rather, it is a very intentional process. Not only must you know where you are going, but—more importantly—what it will take to get there.
When the Board of Directors embarked on this journey 20 months ago, we recognized that despite lots of hard work, there would still be bumps in the road. Like the poet Robert Burns once said, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Which is why we had to take former Philadelphia 76ers basketball coach Sam Hinkie’s rallying cry, “trust the process,” to heart.
Of course, getting to where we are now took longer than planned. (Doesn’t it always?!) But throughout the process, the CAMP Rehoboth staff’s top priority always has been to provide life-affirming services to our community.
To succeed meant thinking like industrial engineer Allen F. Morgenstein, whose work simplification program in the 1930s is now commonly referred to as “working smarter, not harder.” This required adding time to the overall project, as tasks were broken up into multiple pieces and we were mindful of avoiding burnout.
It was clear that accelerating the pace of change would take more than sheer luck. Working in close partnership with Kim, the Board identified barriers slowing the pace of change and defined what was needed to overcome them.
Finding solutions was not going to be simple, so we shifted our perspective toward imagining what was possible if we had the necessary resources (i.e., expertise; funds) to be successful. You could say we took inspiration from the well-known children’s story book, The Little Engine that Could: “I think I can, I think I can.”
Another important lesson learned is that the answer may be right in front of you if you look hard enough (and ask for help). Being intentional helped prioritize the needs and create a course of action to fill the gaps.
One perfect example: In July 2023, CAMP Rehoboth was awarded a $300,000 grant from the State of Delaware to invest in much-needed high-priority capital repair projects at the center. But we needed a project manager to secure estimates and manage the process. The staff reached out to their networks for help, and community member Carol Brice was suggested as a resource to consider because of her previous experience.
Carol agreed to serve in this volunteer leadership capacity, overseeing a wide-ranging renovation, which included new carpeting, ceilings, solar panels, and a light-and-sound system, among other improvements.
Our deliberate approach continues in 2024. We list what support is needed throughout the year and ask Board members to indicate where they can lend a hand (e.g., serving as a spokesperson at a community event, hosting a fundraising reception, or making an introduction to a potential donor). When we leverage available resources, we are thoughtful stewards of this vital community asset.
We invite you to help CAMP Rehoboth fulfill its mission by serving as a volunteer or making a donation of any amount. Every little bit counts. In the words of anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ▼
Wesley Combs is CAMP Rehoboth Board President.