16 Dec Mission Minute: It’s Been an Honor
by Kathe Rae, Manager of Mission Integration and Volunteers
In recent years, I have had the pleasure of writing monthly Mission Minute articles highlighting the importance of New Hope’s mission: our core values, vision, history, traditions, recognition, fun, etc. However, writing this month’s article was quite bittersweet as it is my last one. After 39 years with New Hope, I am retiring to pursue my next life journey. Please indulge me as I share of few memories and reflections. Of course, I certainly could write not only one book but several volumes of New Hope stories and memories.
While a few associates, clients and family members may remember, it might be rather hard to truly understand what life was like in the residential facility. With 200 clients and over 100 staff, it was one busy place. Fortunately, the individuals we serve now have many more opportunities to connect and experience their community with our fleet of vehicles and IndyGo. Back in the day, there were two vans and no accessible bus service, so going on outings just could not happen very often, especially for individuals in wheelchairs. For several years, we had an annual “resident day out,” in which every client was able to go out of the facility for at least several hours on the same day. I asked the two clients who would be going out with me, what they wanted to do, and they just wanted to come to my house. No easy feat as my house was not accessible and one of the individuals was in a wheelchair, which at least could be folded up in my car. We decided to make cookies and rather than have all of the supplies at my house, we stopped to shop for them, so they could pick out what they wanted. Again, this may not seem all that exciting in today’s world of interesting things to do, but we had a wonderful time, jamming to cassette tapes, munching on warm chocolate chip cookies and being entertained by my silly cats. Sometimes it is the simpler times which make great memories.
New Hope has been so blessed and fortunate to have compassionate, visionary, knowledgeable and determined leaders, each having their own special gifts and skills which always seemed perfect for their time at the New Hope helm. In the mid 1980s, prior to New Hope becoming a part of St. Vincent, Robert Cannon was asked to come help out as an interim administrator for six months. His temporary tenure turned into over ten years which included his relentless advocacy for state reimbursement relief and helping New Hope become a part of the St. Vincent entity. In my opinion, he saved us. Mr. Cannon was, perhaps, more of an old school healthcare administrator, rather formal in his style. At one of the St. Vincent large management gatherings, administrators of various facilities were asked to provide an update. Mr. Cannon shared about New Hope’s on-going financial challenges and reimbursement woes, but more importantly, talked about the mission and services to persons with disabilities. It was an emotional presentation and the depth of his commitment and heart was clearly evident in his tears of love for New Hope. Mr. Cannon’s legacy lives on through his granddaughter, Jayme Donnelson, a current member of New Hope’s Board of Directors.
One of the individuals we served for many years, Jackie, experienced several unfortunate bouts of cancer, and lost her brave battle a few years ago. She had endured surgeries and harsh treatments for several years, valiantly fighting the awful disease. Jackie really loved dressing up, having her hair styled, wearing make-up and jewelry, etc. She looked forward to events such as the SPRED Dinner Dance. Through a wonderful team effort, and financial support by then Executive Director, Jim Van Dyke, we were able to arrange for Jackie to be a part of the annual Pink Ribbon Luncheon and Fashion Show honoring people who have experienced breast cancer. One of Jackie’s favorite staff from the Justin group home, Bunmi Adeyemi, was able to accompany her on the runway, both looking enchanting in their beautiful finery. How could this not be a memory I will always cherish?!?
In the summer of 2018, we were able to implement the long-awaited Associate Financial Assistance (AFA) Program, a no-interest loan program to assist associates experiencing financial emergencies. As coordinator of the program, meeting with the associates requesting assistance has been a humbling experience, as we all have experienced tough times in our lives; “there but for the grace of God go I.” It has reminded me why I chose social work all of those years ago with a desire to help and serve others. I have been so proud to work for an organization which not only greatly cares for the persons served but also for those who do the serving. For many years I have told new associates in orientation that New Hope, while not perfect, is the best, and I still believe that is true.
In closing, as most of you are well aware, Lynn Feldman is also retiring after 41 dedicated years of service. While our leadership styles have differed, we have always been committed to the New Hope mission. Last week a new DSP (Direct Support Professional) of the Year award was announced at our luncheon. Lynn and I were very surprised, but also very pleased by such a meaningful tribute. It is gratifying to know we are leaving New Hope as a mission-focused, compassionate, strong, stable, creative and forward-thinking organization.
It’s been an honor to serve.
Thank you so much to Kathe Rae for her nearly forty years of dedicated service and mission-focused leadership. She will be greatly missed by those served and her colleagues. We will do our very best to carry on her legacy and to learn from her example.