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Incarnation-How to Bring About a Revolution of the Heart

by Sister Juliana Beck, Catholic Worker Akron Director

This newsletter’s theme is the Incarnation. Christ took on our flesh despite the cost and pain. In becoming human, Jesus, says, “I love you enough to experience this with you.” The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. As Father John S. Hogan says, “The Incarnation is a two-way street: God took flesh so we may come to share His divinity.” Dorothy Day said something similar, “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart: a revolution that starts with each one of us.”

During our anniversary year CWA Board and Leadership received a Grant from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. We wanted to look at the heart of CWA. The grant enabled us to hire a facilitator that works with faith-based nonprofits. This consultative assistance allowed CWA to facilitate a strategic planning initiative designed to strengthen the Mission, building upon our strengths, and strategically addressing current and anticipated challenges.

 

Through the strategic planning process, we looked at how CWA is bringing forth the Mission. Catholic Worker Akron’s mission is to serve the poor within the greater Akron area; to offer hospitality, including shelter, food, emotional and spiritual support to families and individuals in need to enable them to become self-sufficient. We are called to be present to God in the other; where we once were strangers, we are now family (incarnation/revolution of the heart).

 

The process included the Board’s review of the mission, vision, and values of CWA. The Board and Leadership engaged in a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Through informal focus groups of 6-8 people, we listened to our volunteers, English speaking families, Spanish speaking families, nonprofit partners, and key stake holders. Each group was asked: What is CWA known for in the community? Of all the services offered what is which is the most important? How can we improve services? Other questions were asked and geared to each group.

 

These responses (24 pages both sides) were shared with the Board and Leadership. From all the input received, 4 strategic pillars were formed: Governance and Leadership, Difference-Making, Mission -Building, and Property Management. Under each were 1 or2 goals followed by objectives. In both the CWA Newsletter and on our website, we will share a goal and the objectives and how they are being implemented.

To close, I wanted to share some of the responses from each focus group/ Board to the question:

What is CWA known for?

Board - Lend peace and stability to the neighborhood. Impact those we serve, those that volunteer, and our community.

Volunteer Focus Group - CWA provides an informal referral system. Provides transitional housing and shelter. Provides supportive services for 30 plus families.

Spanish Family Focus Group - Helping families. Tutoring means everything to the families. Also, transportation to appointments and translation of mail.

English Speaking Families - Helping the Hispanic community. Offering hospitality. Accompaniment along the journey. Offering encouragement and support. Planting seeds of hope.

Key Stakeholders - CWA works on the margins, just like Jesus. Helping the marginalized. Accompaniment. Porch ministry. Taking care of poor women and children, mostly Hispanic immigrants who don’t have a safety net.

 

I believe when we are present to the Divine in the other, this is what is truly revolutionary- no judging, freely given, mercy, and compassion. The strategic plan will assist the Board and Leadership to sustain and spread the mission into the future. It is our revolution of the heart and we each have a part to play in its success.

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