When it's all been said and done, there is just one thing that matters. Did I do my best to live for truth? Did I live my life for you? When it's all been said and done, all my treasures will mean nothing.
Only what I have done For love's rewards Will stand the test of time. Lord, your mercy is so great that you look beyond our weakness. You found purest gold in miry clay, turning sinners into saints. When it's all been said and done, you're my life when life is gone.
"Revival in Belfast"
Change is Coming
Recent years have brought significant changes for the REACH family. Medical innovations have resulted in longer life expectancy for those born with HIV. We have approximately 100 kids between the age of 13 and 23, and this demographic shift brings a new set of challenges for the child. How do they fit in with other kids? What about dating? Does God love them? Does He even exist? How do they obtain the life-skills necessary to cope with their circumstances and answer some of these crucial issues?
"What role does REACH play in these issues?" was a major topic at our strategic planning sessions that were conducted in January and February, 2011.
Will Anybody Help
Recent communication with one of our young adults illustrates this need: a young lady who has been a part of the REACH family for several years recently called Tara and asked if REACH could somehow find her a car... which represents a sense of freedom and ownership to this young lady. Her history includes living in a dysfunctional family, drug use, little formal education, isolation and under-developed social skills. She is not ready for a car, but she is ready to know that she has an organization supporting her and supporting her with resources necessary to function successfully in the world.
This young lady's story is but one of several that show kids coming to REACH for assistance in areas that are new to REACH. They have no place to go. The changing needs demonstrate the importance of frequent formal contact through events, programs, mentors, and if appropriate referrals to other specialists.
The Heart of REACH
The staff strategic planning sessions have been enlightening. We started with selecting visual images that best described attributes of REACH, the REACH kids, our values, and our mission. This process allows us to "see" what honesty and integrity looks like, to visualize God's power and love in our lives, to picture loneliness and isolation. The pictures in this newsletter are but a few of what was chosen, and we will use them in some form in newsletters, on our web page, in brochures, and in other types of communication that we have with our families, kids, volunteers and donors.
You are my sunshine and my delight". "You are my favorite"! "You are my first choice"! "I love you beyond measure"! "You are my work of art"! "You are a miracle...and all the angels marvel at you"!
Go tell it on a mountain.
The Strategic Plan
1. We identified the fundamental components of REACH Ministries: our mission, our core values, our vision and our capacity to meet the vision, our beliefs and knowledge which guide our actions and programs, and who we serve.
2. We have etched in stone the non-negotiable core values that define us as an organization.
3. Conducted a "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Analysis" (SWOT).
4. Created a method to get input from our stakeholders. This took the form of Constituent surveys. These are online surveys that are designed to elicit opinions about REACH from our kids, families, volunteers and individual donors, and they are online now for each group.
5. Reconfigured the ministry into four operating silos for the organization. They are: Programs and Family Services, Development, Communication, and Administration.
The staff participation in the SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) has been the most enlightening segment so far. This part is essentially an internal examination of who we are and what we do. The review then leads us to ask "are we relevant"? "Are our programs meeting the needs of our kids and families?
REACH Going Forward
The last "big" decision in this process involves who we serve in the future. The path forward lies within the changing lives and life expectancy of these isolated kids.
REACH must offer programs that provide a choice between a life filled with meaning or one tarnished by cynicism. These programs must be relevant to the teens and young adults who have been given the gift of longer life.
We have a real enthusiasm for the future as a result of this strategic planning process. Life is not static, and REACH cannot occupy a fixed position about our service to the REACH families, and so we change and grow.
We begin our Life Skills Initiative with the understanding that the world is huge. It is confusing, and it is intimidating. The cacophony of messages about virility and cars, skin lotion and sex appeal, money and power, young versus old, and the freeing affects of drugs and alcohol create uncertainty in young people.
If they don't receive strong, loving guidance about these issues, young adults turn to peers or just believe what they see. And they want it all. And this becomes the priority and the prison.
Our Life Skills Programs must weave the knowledge of God's best for us throughout each course. God's best for us is described beautifully in Jeremiah 29:11; "For I know the plans that I have for you," says the Lord. "Plans for a hope and a future, plans to prosper you and not to harm you"
The REACH Team
To participate in the survey, go to: http://www.reachministries.org/surveys_donors.php.