In the early-to mid-1980s I admit that I was a regular viewer of “The A-Team.” Much like the unfolding drama of “Mission Impossible” but with a slightly comedic overtone, I enjoyed watching the protagonists outline and implement a plan to accomplish a specific goal. At the end of each “The A-Team” episode, Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, the leader of the renegade commando squad and played by George Peppard, would always exclaim, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
So do I.
It has been some time since I discussed the Jewish Federation’s Strategic Plan approved two years ago. Too many times, these plans are heralded at completion only to languish on shelves or get lost in file cabinets. Our Strategic Plan co-chairs, Barry Halper and Mark Scoblionko, committed otherwise.
At the adoption of the Strategic Plan, Barry Halper became the new Jewish Federation board president. He and an implementation team began charting a plan to address certain key priorities in the Strategic Plan. I say “key” priorities because, as noble as every goal is contained in the Strategic Plan, we simply don’t have sufficient human and financial resources to implement every stated goal. Nevertheless, the Strategic Plan provided a roadmap to moving forward.
Certain of the goals were agency-specific. And we are seeing much progress, for instance, at our Jewish Community Center in the area of adult programming, and at our Jewish Day School in its efforts to create a school community driven by excellence and values-based education.
Other areas of the Strategic Plan transcended particular agency program boundaries and required a collaborative implementation strategy. For this I refer to our efforts to enhance services to our Jewish senior adult population. The Jewish Federation appointed a Senior Services Task Force ably chaired by Nan Ronis and Patty Glascom and staffed by a senior services planning consultant, Carah Tenzer, MSW. In implementing the broad goals of expanding services to a growing (in number and diversity) Jewish senior adult population, the Task Force recognized that collaboration among service delivery partners – primarily Jewish Family Service, the Jewish Community Center and area synagogues – would be the sine qua non to enhancing our service delivery with limited resources. Input was sought from not only Jewish communal agencies but also from general community agencies which serve the elderly. Recreating the wheel was as objectionable as promoting unnecessary program duplication.
And it all began to sink in this week as I was briefed by the Federation, JCC and JFS professionals working to serve this need. The plan is really coming together … and I love it! Over the past year or so the Jewish Federation, through the generosity of our Annual Campaign donors and the accountability offered by our Allocations Committee, has invested over $75,000 in program enhancement. And the results are evident.
Our Jewish Family Service had drastically changed a small senior transportation service into the comprehensive and growing “The GO Program” that leverages the transportation acumen of another non-profit agency to grow service to the Jewish community. With the engagement of a senior facilities outreach coordinator, services are being expanded to senior care facilities to make them more sensitive to their Jewish clientele and to better provide the programming needed and desired by the Jewish residents.
And this past month, the Jewish Community Center hired a senior services program coordinator. Soon we will see the JCC’s new PrimeTime at the J program take off both at the JCC and at other locations across the Lehigh Valley. Programs will be diverse from game days, to knitting for a mitzvah, to lunches with artists, to engaging and enjoyable movies, to stimulating lectures and discussions, to travel programs. Physical health will be enhanced in special fitness classes with Clarence Cook, a walking club, a comprehensive program to promote balance and reduce falls and even Pickle Ball. (Confession: Pickle Ball had to be explained to me; I was thinking gherkin and sour dills!) And the new PrimeTime program will offer plenty of lunches to supplement the programs.
In developing the Strategic Plan, we began to dream about what we could accomplish. Months ago we developed branded strategies (Jewish Senior Life Connection and The GO Program). As the son of a builder, I knew you built a house brick by brick. But when you lay the first row of bricks, it does not look like a house. We had a plan. We have begun implementing, slowly, piece by piece. And just this week I could tell it was all coming into place. Funds provided by our donors are going to good use. Excellent program staff has been engaged. New and expanded programs are being implemented. Agencies are collaborating and cooperating.
I love it when a plan comes together! And so will you.