It all started with a Vision…

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.

-Anatole France

       “Great things take time”, is an overused and often trite phase that can oversimplify a process in accomplishing hard work. Great things do in fact take time, but the phrase never specifies what that time is spent doing. The time to make great things work and work well takes organization. An organization requires deep, concentrated thought on how to best accomplish a shared idea and that is then put into action.  Youth Life is an organization that requires intense, but also flexible organization because the people they serve are kids.

In the day to day at Youth Life the interactions between the Staff is business casual and tends to lean more informal.  The lead teachers Mrs. Jackie and Ms. Brianna create an environment that is both warm and welcoming. However, the environment is strictly business when it comes to the kids. The kids are at the core of the vision of Youth life. The mission is to create long-lasting relationships with children from at-risk communities in the Richmond area. The goal is by starting at a young age (K-5) students will have a support system that not only academically challenges them, but builds character, raises expectations, and commits 100% to the child: hoping to create leaders of tomorrow. The vision is simple “is to nurture the child, strengthen the family, and rebuild the community”.

In order, to see this goal succeed it starts with the board of donors, then the board of directors, the teachers and then the mentors. It is the job of each of those parties to carry the mission and vision through each role. The board and donors at the top of the pyramid fund and create direction for the teachers. The teachers that sit in the middle of the pyramid, they take this direction and tailor it to their program. For example, Mrs. Jackie is told to inform the parents and be active in keeping them updated. The other three centers do this through emailing or text (written communication), but this type of communication does not work with Southwood parents. Southwood parents speak Spanish and many cannot read written Spanish due to literacy issues or incomplete schooling. It is Mrs. Jackie’s job to meet them where they and adjust to the task at hand. This requires personal phone calls and in person meetings. Mrs. Jackie took the organization’s organizational task and adjusted. That is what is needed to run a well oiled machine organization and lots of flexibility.