AC4D Presenting at ARCH: When It's About Them

On Feb 1, AC4D was invited to present our research findings at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless’s All Staff Meeting. We truly appreciated the opportunity to be the catalyst for a rich discussion. For those who couldn’t be there, here’s what I found to be the most memorable:

  1. From what we heard, it sounded like their board sees the importance of staff members needing to be more like architects and less like firefighters. ARCH will likely be dedicating more planning time for their team in the future.
  2. The staff members agreed that the intake process has room for improvement. While they understand it may not be possible to revert all old habits, they also recognize that there are plenty of opportunities to improve for the future.
  3. Lots of staff members volunteered to form a committee in order to rethink strategies on how to engage clients in a meaningful way that allows them to feel a sense of purpose. We are all in agreement that the clients have a lot to offer, and now we need to create an environment to allow those interactions to happen.
  4. Staff members realized that as they better understand their needs and can articulate specifically the resources they require, they can begin engaging their individual donors and truly treating them as advocates rather than ATM machines.
  5. ARCH invited us back to present to their board, as well as keep working with them to bring these ideas into implementation.

As I reflected upon this extremely rewarding experience, I found the following to be true:

First, it did not feel like a presentation. It felt like I was telling stories that needed to be told, to the people that needed to hear them. I didn’t feel the nervousness I normally feel during a presentation because, as it turns out – this is not about me, it’s about them. I cared less about how well I was doing, but more about how well the stories resonated with them. We were there to work with them to find better ways to achieve their vision, rather than to judge our presentation skills. It was different, because it mattered.

On a personal level, I am proud to have been able to step up when Alex couldn’t be there. Obviously I was not Alex and we all missed his presence and energy. But the fact that we were able to back each other up, tell the same story, with the same emotional attachment – solidified the idea of what it means to be a team.

ARCH, thank you for having us. AC4D, thank you for being supportive. I am honored to have been a part of this.