July is the first month of the new fiscal year for GraceWorks!
I hinted in last month’s article that I had something to share with you as we launched into this new fiscal year. Well, I have teased you long enough and am ready to do the big reveal. But first let me set the stage. For the last several months I have told you about the work of the Strategic Planning Committee, led by Bill Wright our board member from HCA and facilitated by Brad Gray, a consultant from the Center from Nonprofit Management. One of the things we did during the planning process was to ask the tough questions like the one I asked last month, “What is GraceWorks?,” “Why do we do what we do?,” “Who do we provide services for?” As we worked toward these answers we looked at our history, our mission, impact stories that example our work and our culture.
One thing that we loved is that GraceWorks calls the people we served “neighbors.” When Jesus was asked by a lawyer who was his neighbor, He responded with the story of the Good Samaritan. It is a familiar one to us, so I won’t retell it. But as you know, Jesus talks about a person who not only had been beaten, robbed and left by the side of the road, but also had been passed up by two others who could have helped but for reasons unknown, did not. The man was actually helped by someone who didn’t even know him.
At the end of the story, Jesus asks the question “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” When the lawyer answered, “The one who showed him mercy,” Jesus responded, “Go and do likewise”.
Wait a minute! Jesus called the one who had showed mercy the neighbor, not the one who been shown mercy the neighbor!
By calling those shown mercy our neighbor, we had been missing the opportunity to express the fullness of what happens at GraceWorks by leaving out the 150 to 200 people who come every week to show mercy. We were not capturing the tender give-and-take of those with needs serving the needs of others. The recognition of this two-way mercy stream promoted the Strategic Planning Committee to search for an accurate and succinct way to articulate the beautiful ministry exchange that really happens between volunteers and “neighbors” at GraceWorks.
These compassionate volunteers are also the neighbors. GraceWorks is a vehicle for those showing mercies to serve and to give back to others. Here are some quotes from our website that demonstrate this:
One of our donors wrote in to say, “GraceWorks helped us in a time of need, and now we want to give back. Our prayer is this will help others in need.” A volunteer is quoted as saying “I feel blessed to be able to volunteer and give back to my community.” Another volunteer who had gone through a tragic circumstance told me personally that GraceWorks had given his life new purpose when he once was thinking about giving up. Still others tell of actually having to come in to seek our services and then coming back out of gratitude to serve others in the same way!
As result of examination and prayer and in an effort to capture the full picture of GraceWorks, the Strategic Planning Committee came up with the new mission statement of “Neighbor serving Neighbor, by the Power of God’s grace.” (Ta da!!! Don’t you just love it!)
This new mission statement gives a more accurate and memorable snapshot of who we are. In this same vein, we also took the opportunity to address and rewrite our Core Values. I would like to share them with you as well:
- Christ-likeness in both our attitudes and behavior
- Connecting through mutual respect, empathy and kindness
- Cultivating Hope by offering assistance and encouragement
- Creating Community by investing in our neighbors through service
I pray that you agree that this new mission statement and this restatement of core values rightly answers the questions I posed at the beginning of the article. We are a community resource center that facilitates the beautiful and merciful picture of Neighbors serving Neighbors and our core values will forever be centered about Christ and principles that please our Lord.
Thank you being our neighbor as we step into this 24th year of service. We can accomplish much in this new fiscal year with you by our side. I don’t have to ask the question of popular children’s TV show host Mr. Rogers, “Would you be my neighbor?” You have already shown me that you are. Thank you for being that Good Samaritan to your neighbors. You are a Christ-like blessing to GraceWorks!
I will be sharing more of the strategic plan in the coming months. Keep reading!
Serving in His Name,
Valencia A. Breckenridge, CEO