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Facing the Storm with Courage and Optimism

posted by Chris Sparks on Wednesday, February 9, 2022

The last year has presented challenges, many unprecedented, and some without very good solutions. It has been very hard to make sense of our world. As oppressive and overwhelming as the problems have felt at times, there have been many shining moments and they continue to see us through.

What are they, you might ask?

  • Our staff have shown up, stepped up, and courageously worked with open hearts. They have been marvels. They’ve calmed fears and nurtured the resolve for us all to persevere. If it sounds like I’m exaggerating I assure you I am not, people have been great. Seeing the good our staff do, and their commitment, it’s enough to restore your faith in humanity. I keep getting up and entering the battle each day in large part for them, they’re my inspiration.

  • In the midst of some of the most trying circumstances we have ever experienced, we were selected again as an Employer of Choice by the Waterloo Courier. Nominated by our employees. They had some really nice things to say about us in their nomination - you’ll read more about this on page 8.

  • We were able to secure vaccinations and boosters for employees and persons served - at a somewhat early juncture. Due in large part to the partnerships we have nurtured and our dogged determination.

  • Fiscal year 2021 was a good year financially. Sure, we got help from a Paycheck Protection Plan Loan, CARES act money from federal and state sources, additional funding for child care services, but we have been surviving a once in a century global pandemic!

  • The workforce problems we have been talking about have burst into the open. Much attention is being paid with a study group here, a plan there, and talk of funding... for something. This is great and we are working to amplify our particular industry’s needs.

As we look into the next year we see continued challenges; the pandemic and its dangers, managing workforce shortages and challenges, financial restrictions, payment system changes, and continued service system transformation.

We intend to face coming challenges as we always have, keeping our working relationships healthy, taking care of staff, collaborating with like-minded partners, and focusing on our customers.

The state of our organization is strong.

Yes, we have been battered by the challenges of the last two years, that is true. We have been battered, but we are unbowed. We are financially and operationally stable and we’re facing the storm together, and with courage and optimism.

About The Author

Chris Sparks served as EPI's third ever Executive Director from 1998 until 2022.