MIFA supports the independence of vulnerable seniors and families in crisis. Our senior programs promote independence, health companionship, and dignity. For example, these programs include Meals on Wheels and senior transit services, which allows seniors to stay in their homes. For families in crisis, we offer a continuum of services designed to prevent homelessness. This might include interventions ranging from one time utility assistance, to shelter placement, to rapid rehousing. The beauty of rapid rehousing is that we can house a family in the neighborhood that they want to live in and the family receives a Family Housing Advocate, which is a MIFA staff member that keeps in touch with the families and helps them connect to social services.
I am most proud of MIFA’s staff and our strategic innovation—something we as an organization have always striven for. Much of our progress has been driven by our three-year strategic plan, which began in FY13 and ended in FY15. In the plan, we challenged ourselves to build on our solid foundation and find creative ways to respond to a difficult environment: one where funding is flat or declining, and a growing number of our neighbors need our help. In three short years, we have changed our course in some substantial ways, and as a result, we’re better equipped to meet the growing need. I am proud that during this time we were able to transition our housing program to a rapid rehousing model, take on the homeless hotline program, increase our meals delivery to homebound seniors AND launch an endowment campaign. We would not be able to do all of this without a talented staff, generous donors, volunteers, and trusted partners.
We need volunteers for Meals on Wheels because we are increasing our service thanks to a grant from the Plough Foundation. Right now we deliver 1400 meals a day to home-bound seniors. Our seniors get one hot meal every week day that meets the nutritional requirements. We even deliver pet food when we know they have pets so they won’t feel as though they need to share their meal with their furry companions! Right now it takes 100 volunteers daily to deliver meals, but we need to recruit approximately 100 new volunteers over the next two years. We hear lots of stories because we have so many volunteers that serve and universally they all agree, it’s as beneficial to them as it is to the senior. The senior is receiving a meal and a check in, but the person who is delivering is getting back the opportunity to meet people who have stories of a lifetime. One of our volunteers found out that a client she was delivering a meal to knew her mother, and they really connected over that. Sometimes we make assumptions about who receives these services, and volunteering disrupts those assumptions.
The opportunity to participate in networking, like the CEO Roundtable, is so valuable. It really helps you build relationships so you feel comfortable calling a colleague and saying “this is challenging for me” and getting advice. The networking groups are priceless. When MIFA undertook our strategic plan, one of the things that rose to the top of our conversations with our departments was staff development. The Alliance offers this wonderful opportunity to be able to fulfill that for our staff. People on the MIFA staff are our most important asset, and the Alliance affords us the ability to invest in them. We have found it’s been great to send multiple people to a training because they band together as a cadre and share learning with the rest of the staff. One wonderful thing that the Alliance does is make members partners. They have brought people together to brainstorm about their strategic plan and services and it has made us all feel like the Alliance is really committed to serving us. We feel a shared leadership and a shared effort. Kudos to you all for prioritizing that.