The Challenge of Transition and Reinvention
by GINNY AMENDUM, SENIOR CONSULTANT, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
The buzz around “transition and reinvention” in Charlotte’s nonprofit sector is not going away any time soon. The human service nonprofits that often define the backbone of our community are recognizing that these two phrases can create havoc or heaven for the days ahead! Such is the case with a current PMA client, a local Smart Start organization that is struggling to make sense out of these two words.
The solemn message from Raleigh is that Smart Start funding, which has supported wonderful programs and services for young children (birth-age 5) for more than two decades, is changing – and fast. And sadly, that change is not necessarily one that will produce continued early childhood programming and funding stability across the state of North Carolina.
The glaring challenge for many local Smart Start partnerships rests in the buzz: “transition and reinvention.” This is not a game to be played lightly, nor for interim/temporary “wins.” The high stakes here involve child well-being across all our communities, now and for all the days to come.
One small agency, no matter what its historic track record, cannot provide a community with all the multiple supports that add up to comprehensive child well-being. Many have tried and are currently finding themselves financially drained and emotionally exhausted. I think, however, that the answer lies in the fact that the days of “individual” must be replaced with something radically different yet eminently achievable.
That answer will require not one agency but several – defined by diverse services, sizes, missions, and financial capacity. It will demand one agency to step forward and convene the vision of reinvention, not only of itself, but of its community vision.
- It will involve letting go of old ways of doing business and embracing new ones that will look and feel unfamiliar.
- It will depend on the power of communication and the honesty of the message.
- It will invite new partners and a possible farewell to some former ones.
- It will require creativity, passion, and great patience.
Above all, it will require a level of discipline not often seen in this industry. It is a discipline that helps agencies select, define and implement their unique and critical roles within a framework that never deviates from the collective vision of a community consortium committed to the pinnacle of child well-being for all our children.
As “transitions and reinventions” become the new reality, and something else becomes the “buzz,” don’t forget to look carefully! My prediction is that you will see an amazing number of small community “backbone” agencies – alive and well and serving others within a new dimension.