For my last Curb Notes article I’d like to share some reflections of the last 12 years.
Working in a social service agency is not for the faint of heart and during a career, however short or long, one will likely experience every emotion. The most important thing I have learned is that poverty, homelessness, and addictions are individually and collectively complex issues. It is most important to understand that there are no easy nor quick solutions. The desire for quick and easy solutions to issues that have taken years to develop is an unreasonable desire and an unreachable goal.
I’ve learned that we cannot change the world for everyone, but we can change one person’s, one family’s world, and that individual or family can then change someone else’s world, and progress is thus incrementally made. Our focus needs to be on the individual immediately before us. I’ve learned that it takes community to change a person’s life and that change requires relationships. And I’ve learned that we don’t always get it right!
I’ve been surprised by how quickly we look to government or someone else for solutions other than ourselves. I’m reminded of the lyrics from a Matthew West song – “…So, I shook my fist at Heaven, said ‘God why don’t you do something’? He said I did, yeah, I created you…”
I’ve also been surprised at how unchallenged narratives frame discussions and perceptions. For example, when I started, I frequently heard how there are silos among non-profit organizations; no one wants to work together. 12 years later, I reject the notion and narrative that organizations are silos and don’t collaborate. From the day I started in August 2010, I have been extremely impressed, amazed, by how community organizations work together to find solutions. Any wedges between and among organizations are not coming from the organizations themselves.
As a Christian, I have an abiding hope in the future. One reason is my belief in the nobility of humans, even while I understand and acknowledge that good and bad exist side by side and reside in each one of us. I believe we were created to be creative ourselves, and so, I am confident that we can discover solutions to our pressing social problems.
I have hope because there are many extremely talented and smart people in social service agencies in the city of London. I have hope because I know, I know, MSL is comprised of staff, volunteers and donors who develop relationships and tangibly help our neighbours every day.
Mission Services of London, loving God, loving others.
Written by Peter Rozeluk, Executive Director of Mission Services of London, Retired October 14, 2022