For the Sake of Achieving the Mission.
Here at 12th Avenue and Madison, the constant change remains, well, constant. There is never a dull moment. As an organization in full-on growth mode at a collaborative Campus that serves 14,000 people a year, we find ourselves continually adjusting, reprioritizing, forming, storming, and norming.
As announced previously we are changing names! As the organization moves from Human Services Campus, Inc. to Keys to Change, the place in downtown Phoenix moves from Human Services Campus to Key Campus. The steps to update, rewrite, redesign, and replace are many. We intentionally didn’t wait until we had it all ready to go to start implementing. This “phased” approach means not spending a lot of money all at once, and it means dozens of little steps that we also don’t want to take too long. This brings quite a bit of busy-ness as items are shifting in the to-do lists in order to be the most responsive as needs arise.
And the name changes are leading to many fruitful and engaging conversations. Having the opportunity to talk about all of the Keys that lead to reducing and ending homelessness is energizing. As Keys to Change, we are able to offer the keys of bridge housing, diversion, Project Connect, regional street outreach, coordinated entry, and the Key Campus. On top of that Keys to Change will be louder and more visible in the advocacy space for systems change that will create long-term reductions in the numbers of people who become homeless and increase the number of services and housing opportunities.
With our name change and the differentiation of the organization and the unique place at the Key Campus, positions and roles adapt to meet the demands and to pursue the opportunities. One of my goals is now accomplished, with Tish Brown-Gambino who started working with us almost one year ago as my Associate Executive Director. The plan was to separate the functions at Key Campus to a person rather than be part of the mix of duties and responsibilities that are mine. Tish is now THE Executive Director of Key Campus. And I have the honor of being the CEO of Keys to Change. We are so fortunate to have Tish on our team, and I’m optimistic about the improvements that will occur with her leadership.
Change is also around us as the numbers of unsheltered people ebb and flow. The visibility of homelessness is a sliver of what it was a couple of year ago in the immediate neighborhood. The trailing of people, possessions and structures is noticeable along side streets, freeways, in parks, and at bus stops. It’s a scattering with the ongoing inflow of new people into homelessness. I’m reminded of the plastic toy, the flat circle with a maze and seemingly one hundred teeny tiny steel balls. As the toy is moved the balls bounce and zing, and the objective is to move them through the maze to the end of the line where they fall into a teeny tiny hole. People are bouncing through neighborhoods, and we work to help them through the maze that is services and a winding, circling path to housing.
Other changes are in motion with less visible systems, for example the accounting system which is being replaced/upgraded. That effort takes a tremendous amount of time and energy from the Finance Department. The organization has outgrown the current system, and while this may sound like a mundane item to share, it will bring us into the current century for financial management and planning.
And this time of year, as the Arizona Legislature is in session, we watch, listen, weigh in, testify, and speak up as the State looks for ways to enact change. It is an intense season with last-minute meetings, reading bills with fervor, and desperately seeking rational decision-making.
All systems. All processes. Everything is up for discussion. Not change for the sake of change. Change for the sake of achieving the mission to end homelessness. Working Together. Unlocking the Way Home. All the while I never forget the legacy that is Mike McQuaid. I think he would appreciate the results of the change that we can control. The change that we cannot control, I’m guessing he would be as fired up as me about how unpredictable and consequential it can be. As he often said, homelessness is solvable. Just like that toy maze, which although frustrating in how it appears simple, yet takes patience and a steady hand, it is solvable.
About Keys to Change and Key Campus
Keys to Change (formerly HSC, Inc.) is the overarching organization that owns and manages Key Campus (formerly Human Services Campus) where 15 independent nonprofit organizations power a collaborative force united on one campus to end homelessness. Located just west of downtown Phoenix, Key Campus sees more than 1,000 individuals every day, offering a holistic range of client services including: reunification with family and friends; mental, physical and dental health; shelter; employment; meals; legal services and housing. Having all of these resources in one location with intra-agency communications makes it more feasible to provide a customized engagement for each client to help end their homelessness. Keys to Change is a compassionate connector and strategic partner in a leadership role working to end homelessness. For more information, visit www.hsc-az.org.