11 Jan 2023 Recap
One of the things I love to do every January is go back month-by-month in my day planner and revisit the previous year. If you are wondering what I mean by “day planner,” it’s an actual paper calendar because I am stubborn enough to cling tightly to the one last low tech thing in my life. I have just recently learned how to schedule my calendar on my phone (to the relief of everyone around me) but I’m not ready to let go of the paper one. This is the only situation that I allow for duplication of efforts. So, I’m going to pull out my day planner and take a walk down a 2023 memory lane.
If you guys remember, I told you in 2022 we had begun a new electronic monitoring program using smart phone technology instead of the outdated ankle monitors. City of Faith has seen so much success with this program not only providing us with good, up-to-date accountability for our residents, but it has also provided us with mountains of usable data. Seeing our company become more data driven has been one of the highlights of 2023. In addition to this goodness, Allen Winkler and I were invited to go to New Orleans, LA and Los Angeles, CA to participate in a panel discussion at the American Probation and Parole Association conference about this new technology and the game changer that it is. We are grateful to the folks at Corrisoft for partnering with us to help us make these dreams come true.
City of Faith continues to make great strides with the Entrepreneurial Operating Systems (EOS) that was introduced to our company last year. Drew Spurgers is hanging in there with us to make sure we become all that we can be as a good solid company, focusing on our leadership team and meeting our company goals. In February we met as a leadership team for a quarterly meeting to make sure we’re in a good place and sure enough, we made all 10’s. Later on in this year, the team met for several days in Gulf Shores, AL to discuss goals for 2024. To say this has helped us is an absolute understatement. Please give Drew a call if you want to know more about this system or just call me. I’ll be more than happy to tell you how far we have come as a company and all of the positive things this has brought.
March saw every City of Faith Case Manager coming together for their first ever, face-to-face pow wow in Monroe, LA. Case Managers from Little Rock, Monroe and Baton Rouge met for a whole day to discuss their current positions, how things can improve for them individually and for the company as a whole. We are becoming more and more aware of the power of communication and look forward to many more meetings of the minds. These professional men and women across all three facilities continue to amaze me with their dedication to the City of Faith mission and vision. They seek the best for the company and their residents and do this with the utmost excellence.
2024 brought a revamping of the Community Relations Advisory Board. This board has been meeting since 1996 and had become just a box to check off for Bureau of Prisons approval. Interest in this group was waning so I decided to take this board and create something both the Bureau of Prisons and City of Faith could be proud of and something members could actually look forward to serving on and attending. On October 10th, we held our first “revamped” meeting. This group consists of local law enforcement, city council members, COF employers, former residents and the COF Employment Placement Specialist. The mission of the CRAB is “Conveying the mission of City of Faith and nurturing the bonds our community embraces.” There was so much excitement in that room about our future and the community resources each person brought to the table to assist our residents. We spoke to the dry bones of the Community Relations Advisory Board and they miraculously came to life. Look at God.
November is always pretty slammed for us and this year was no different. We held our 4th annual COF retreat in Bentonville, AR and I’ve got to tell you, these retreats just get better and better. With speakers like Dr. Amy Hawkins, Charlotte Strickland, Steven Shook, and Vance Jackson, how can you go wrong? We were also able to convey the fact that God still continues to bless the work of our hands, helping us grow and be good stewards of all He has given us. Many thanks also to Christina Blum, artist extraordinaire, who patiently led our group through an art class. God bless her. We had a blast but I’m sure the patience of Job was required.
Our second annual City of Faith Executive Board meeting was held in Monroe this year at the Biedenharn Gardens and Museum. What a gem this place is. What a perfect meeting place. We were in awe of the history of Coca-Cola, Ms. Emy-Lou Biedenharn and the Bible Museum. Please, if you ever have a chance to go, don’t miss this. It was an incredible experience for all of us.
Last but definitely not least, I’d like to draw your attention to our latest project, the Faith Box. The heart breaking reality hit me one day that our unhoused population around us was eating out of our dumpster. I’d like to say I was “immediately” reminded of 1 John 3:17-18, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” but the truth is I had to be confronted with the need face-to-face and this took a minute (refer back to paragraph 1 for “stubborn”). God required that we take action. Our very talented and kind maintenance man, Josh, built our beautiful Faith Box, which is a food pantry big enough for food items plus clothes, blankets, hygiene items and anything else a human might need. If you feel so compelled, please help us in this effort to keep the box filled with items our neighbors might need. We have links for you here to make this easier for you.
If you’ve read this far, I’m grateful and not a little impressed. 2023 has been a year of learning and growing for us and I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to 2024. Please keep us in your prayers, specifically for wisdom to continue to be good stewards and as always, if you need us, call.
Happy New Year!