Chris Westergaard, Faith Home Residential Coordinator, and Sarah Babcock, Recreation Coordinator, applied to and were accepted to participate in the Iowa Association of Community Provider's (IACP) Leadership Institute. Participants from across the state meet in Ames once a month for five months to focus on areas specific to leadership of community service provider organizations, such as nonprofit finance, legislative issues, as well as individual leadership styles. The purpose of the Leadership Institute is to develop the future leaders of nonprofit organizations. These are their thoughts on the value of this opportunity and how it applies to their work at FHC:
"By attending the IACP Leadership Institute, we believe we now have tools that can be used at Faith, Hope & Charity to develop individual leadership styles as well as to create strong leadership roles. We learned to build on our talents as well as the talents of those we work with through tools to assess strengths and emotional intelligence, which will help to achieve our fullest potential.
It was encouraging to network with people in our field of work. We were able to visit with others working at the same type of agencies and going through the same things we are. It was good to get the different perspectives that are geared towards our line of work.
Information learned was valuable because we can apply it directly in the workplace. We hope to be able to educate the organization though all-home meetings, committees we are involved with, and our management meetings. We believe staff understand and appreciate that information learned at the Leadership Institute was brought back and shared with all."
Another learning opportunity for FHC staff is the Association for the Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) Governmental Affairs Seminar in Washington, D.C. each September. This year, FHC's Direct Support Professional of the Year, Amber Santamaria, accompanied me to Washington. As National Health Care Reform is the Obama Administrations top legislative issue, this was an important year to attend and hear what is going on at the national level, particularly with Medicare which funds the majority of services for people with disabilities. These are Amber's thoughts on the importance of her attendance:
"As a direct care worker, I find that while providing quality care for our consumers, it's sometimes difficult to see how Faith, Hope and Charity fits into the bigger picture. In mid-September, I was fortunate to be selected to attend the ANCOR Governmental Affairs Seminar with FHC's Executive Director Cindy Wiemold. We are one of thousands of organizations in the U.S. that provides services to people with special needs. I was able to network with executives and other direct support professionals from other agencies, and the overall feeling I learned from others is the need to do our best for those we serve. I noticed great concern from the healthcare community as a whole on how to continue to provide the same quality services and jobs once the federal stimulus package expires, and will no longer offset state budget deficits. After attending the seminar, I have a greater appreciation for what administrators do "behind the scenes" to make our jobs possible (now that I actually understand it!).
FHC believes that no community-based organization is an island unto itself. It's important that we take advantage of opportunities to connect with and learn from the larger service provider community, both within our state and nationally, in order to do the best job we can for the children we serve and their families. Faith, Hope and Charity believes in making a strong investment in the educational opportunities for our staff, which is in turn an investment in the future of FHC and its mission:
"To improve the lives of special needs children by promoting independence and individuality."