I want to begin by wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and extend best wishes that 2017 will be a good year for you.
2016 has been a year where I have experienced challenges and disappointments but I have also been blessed to be a part of some successes at Open Hands.
Some of the challenges I was a part of were:
Instituting a Bag Policy limit at our Monday Meals Program where our guests were only allowed to take whatever they could put into two bags. Humbly I admit this was one of my disappointments. After much consideration, we no longer are limiting our guests to what they can take. We simply ask tell them to take what they feel they need.
I experienced the challenge of twice hiring someone to be the cook for Open Hands but for various reasons it was not meant to be and we had to continue our search.
By far, one of my toughest challenges was saying goodbye to two wonderful people who served on the Open Hands Board of Directors, Keith Lentz and Kathy Johnson, as their terms ended on December 31, 2016. Though they will no longer be a part of the Board, they both said they would continue serving with their respective churches as volunteers.
Some of the successes I was a part of were:
Being the recipients of the ELCA Domestic Hunger Grant.
Passing my certification to be a licensed Food Manager.
Our Board of Directors crafting a new Mission Statement.
Welcoming two new partners to help serve at our Monday Meals Program, All Saints Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove and Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Shoreview.
Receiving a grant from Redeemer Lutheran Church allowing us to purchase five brand new tents for use at our outdoor events.
Welcoming Hidden Pines Ranch of Stillwater to partner with us for our summer Kids' Club by providing backpacks filled with food that each participant could take home at the end of every week.
Hosting our first ever Golf Outing and Supper at Applewood Hills golf course in Stillwater (yes, I played golf for the first time in over 10 years!)
Hiring Steve Lee as our cook.
Writing and publishing (on our website) our first ever Volunteer Handbook and Volunteer Application.
Being the recipients of the St. Paul Sunrise Rotary Club's fall fundraiser which raised money to purchase new chairs for our outdoor events and new shelves for our main food storage room.
As I find myself nearing the completion of my second year as the Director of Open Hands, I continue to be amazed by where this journey has taken me. Perhaps I could be accused of over using the following phrase but when something says what I feel, it is worth repeating. 'The Reward is IN the Journey', just sayin'...