November 27, 2013
Just like many others, the holidays makes me think about blessings and challenges. Inevitably, my mind turns back to this program, the good things happening, and all the things to be thankful for within our network. For some time, I have felt the sense of defeat and nervousness taking over some CAPs. I know CAPs have been facing the fear about the future, budget cuts, and the lack of good news coming out of Washington. As difficult as it has been locally, around the country, and here at NCAF, it is also a blessing. We have the opportunity to think about doing business in a different way or to think about what it would take to expand or to revisit opportunities that may have been overlooked in the past that now provide a new path. I am blessed that at this stage in my professional career, I have the opportunity to help realize some of those opportunities.
One of things I am grateful for and have been thinking about is that, as difficult as it has been, we are not alone. What worries me about the sense of defeat working its way through our network is that it fails to recognize that we are not alone in this current struggle. I don’t know anybody right now, including the military and defense departments, that are not concerned about their funding and the future they are facing. We are not alone. If we were the only program being cut, it would be difficult to overcome. But we are not alone.
There are rays of hope for our program. It is not all doom and gloom. And I don’t know a time in the thirty years I have been involved with this program when there has been more of an opportunity to be creative, innovative, and successful. We have more opportunity to expand our reach at the local level, to create new partnerships, and to reinvent the program to be better placed in our communities and more strategically so.
It is also important to remember that no matter how difficult it has been, we each are more fortunate than so many other people. Every day, particularly with where our offices are located in DC, I encounter a lot of homeless, a lot of people who clearly have abuse and mental health issues, people who are unfortunately living on the street. What always – always – goes through my mind when I encounter someone is, “I bet, when they were born, their parents did not envision this would be their life.” No parent envisions their daughter or son will spend their adult life on the street, homeless, and in many cases, penniless. Every single person out there is a son or daughter of somebody. Nobody expects their life to turn out quite that way. When you think about that, you cannot help but be thankful for what you have been given and more determined to continue our work and to create new opportunities for our programs the people we serve across all our communities.
November 26, 2013
We are being asked a lot about Weatherization. People want to know what they can do to help with the program. It is difficult to respond. What is going on with Weatherization is a lot like what is going on with a handful of other issues out there- there is a part of the conversation that needs to happen but is not easy to face. With Weatherization, talking about how great our network did with the stimulus doesn’t work and this is difficult to come to terms with. A lot of our network wants to talk about what we did in 2011 and our success with the stimulus. We were very successful with stimulus but neither our success nor the stimulus has traction in Congress any longer. The majority of the House was opposed to the stimulus at the time of its passing. And highlighting our success at the height of the stimulus is not of interest. So we are faced with the difficulty of crafting a successful argument that jumps over our performance with the stimulus. I think any effort is going to require placing Congressional pressure on DOE to find more money for the program at a time in which Congress is pulling away from the Administration. It is going to take high Senate leadership at a time in which they are less accessible. It is a time that old arguments and tried and true strategies are not sufficient. New arguments and strategies need to be crafted.