by Daniel L. Smith, Director of Development Josiah White’s Quakerdale Foundation
January 1, 2018 Josiah White’s Quakerdale Foundation began serving by providing facilities, awarding grants, developing leaders, and providing nonprofits with training in fundraising and communication. Instead of doing the services we had provided for the past 160 years plus, we are now supporting nonprofits in their efforts to fulfill their call to “Serve as Christ Serves.” Proving Facilities is one of our most important functions.
Today the cost of building and maintaining a ministry space can be very prohibitive. For many nonprofits the costs associated with the ‘where they do ministry’ can be more than they spend ‘doing ministry’. That’s where our facilities come in. Our campuses in Waterloo, Manning, New Providence, and two in Marshalltown allow us to create spaces for our ministry partners to serve people without them being subservient to the place in which they serve.
One of the big issues that impacted our recent restructuring at Quakerdale had to do with a lack of employees willing to do the jobs we needed done. I was reading about a survey done with workers hired to do the types of helping jobs Quakerdale hires and the results were interesting.
Tom Woll, a consultant to non profits like Quakerdale, recently interviewed three hundred workers in our field what it would take to stay at their position for two years. (Just two years!) Tom stated that the answers revolved around five issues associated with the work: Stress, discouragement, belonging, purpose and fulfillment.
These were Millennial workers exclusively and all of them had concerns about the work that were very practical. They felt like the work they were doing was beyond their skills and that their training didn’t prepare them for the task. This led them to feeling discouraged and stressed out. These feelings of discouragement followed them home and had a negative impact on their personal lives. Many stated that if they do not feel calm in their work they will leave.
I know we all like to feel encouraged, stress free. We like to feel that we are fully prepared for the task and that those around us show appreciation and give us the feelings of purpose and fulfilment.
Where do feelings of stress, discouragement or belonging, purpose and fulfilment come from?
The last time I checked lasting feelings of contentment and well being don’t come from others. The process of growing and “becomming” demands stress, anxiety, challenge and general discomfort. Then we move to the next level and become the person we can ultimately become. Then we better know our purpose, where we belong and what fulfils us. Have you ever went and listened to a survivor story? Someone who overcame something really terrible? These people know who they are and it is because of the difficulty they experienced.
We as parents, friends or co-workers can model how to overcome hardship and take on challenges because we all have them. We can find contentment in the midst of the trials and challenges of life even if our challenges are not bad enough to put us on the 6 pm news! When we are modeling how to handle these challenges we must allow our kids to experience increasing levels of hardship or challenge when they are young. Kids who face difficulty or challenges experience stress and discouragement. Kids can learn that belonging, purpose and fulfilment come from going through difficult things instead of quitting.
So where are you helping yourself or your children avoid something difficult? Are you actually helping your child grow if you allow them to avoid the problem or fixing it for them?
Today try to take a look at life through the lense of growth and remember good things always require extra effort and they don’t come easy! Then we are better prepared for the next hard thing that always comes!
James chapter one is the place I go when things are hard in my life and I realize I am in a growth opportunity. You see as the old hymn says: “My hope rests in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” You see when our happiness is dependent on others or even the circumstances of this world we are surely going to be disappointed. Teaching our children, co-workers or our friends how to find happiness isn’t quitting or avoiding. It has to do with where we put our trust and happiness and how we go about our lives.
I want to share a great song with you with an introduction in a concert. Not only are we expected to extend ourselves as in James chapter one, but then we can also rest easy knowing God will carry our burdens!
What would Iowa farmers do if the world believed corn causes cancer? At first, farmers would protest, reminding people that corn is great for feeding cattle, pigs and poultry. But if consumers stopped buying corn, would Iowa farmers keep growing corn? NO! Corn production would stop FAST!
The shocker statement about corn is a metaphor for what Quakerdale is going through today, one that could also be applied to churches as well.
Would cancerous corn mean farmers were no longer farmers?
Farmers would still be farmers, but I believe farming would change radically and almost instantly. For a few years, it would be tough. Farmers would go through some really hard times and some would quit. But farmers would still be farmers with the goal of feeding the world and our rich black Iowa farm land would still be here. The idea of growing crops would still be the mission of farmers and another crop or two or three would replace corn, and eventually Iowa farmers would be busy again through adaptation and planning.
Today, “best practices” taught in universities and among social service professionals claim that out-of-home group homes and shelters are universally bad for families. This movement started back in the 1990’s. This summer, responding to diminishing placements and these “best practices,” Quakerdale closed the last of our group homes and shelter programs. We closed our Waterloo and Manning campuses because enrollment had dropped (again) 20% from the previous 12 months in our remaining shelter programs. The state (our customer for those services ) rarely requires kids to be helped in out-of-home services anymore.
Since June people have asked, “Does Quakerdale help any kids anymore?”
Quakerdale has a mission, just like Iowa farmers, and a cultural change will not stop our efforts. Quakerdale exists to teach children about God and teach them discipline and work skills, a mission begun by our founder Josiah White in 1851.
Thankfully, Quakerdale has many other ministry programs which help thousands of children and their families each year! Even though we are renting and willing to sell the Manning and Waterloo facilities, we continue to have a clear mission to teach people about God and life skills, just as we have been doing for over 165 years.
Just like the farmer with a mission to grow crops, Quakerdale is still a ministry with a mission. While the approach was primarily group homes and shelters in the 70’s – 80’s, other programs and ministries have been developed. Last year, Quakerdale served 3464 children and their families (some were served in more than one program). 167 of those children were served in our group homes and shelters. That means that in 2015, 3297 were touched to by Quakerdale through home and community based programs!
Yes, folks, Quakerdale is still #makingadifference for kids and their families in Iowa and the midwest. Our methods might be forced to change, and the means may change, but our mission remains the same! That mission is what makes Quakerdale so special…
Please come to our web site www.quakerdale.org to learn of all the different things going on at Quakerdale. Or, if you are a facebook friend, like us there to see regular updates on what is happening at Quakerdale. We are excited to see what God has for us in the future as we make room for his guidance and change at Quakerdale.
And PLEASE NOTE that Quakerdale ministries are made possible by the donations of volunteers and gifts of donations or assets of those from the past and present! Keep us in your annual or monthly charitable giving. Remember us in your estate planning so you can leave a legacy with Quakerdale!
PS. I mentioned the church in my opening “shocker” metaphor. Have any of you noticed church attendance changing? I believe that the church, like Quakerdale, and like the farmer, has the same important mission it has always had, but how it does it needs to change, and as soon as churches figure out what the change needs to be we will see church participation rise. Watch this interesting video spoken to college students about the revival of our selves and of the church into the future. It takes pruning and faith to go to the next place God has for us! We have to stop doing old things in order to start new things for Christ!
Please share you comments on this blog and give us feedback on the impact Quakerdale has had on you or someone you know!