Sunday, July 1, 2007

Director's Desk: Stepping Up

As some of you might have noticed – based on our changed masthead on page 2 and the lack of an editors column in last issue – the first full-time editor at Street Sense, Charles Jackson left after a brief two months. And as his exit was with about two hours warning, we obviously had no replacement lined up, and were, thus, operating without a full-time editor for the last month.

Consequently, the past few weeks have been rather crazy around the Street Sense office and inside my head as well. (Last month was also marred by one of our formerly homeless volunteers using the Street Sense credit card to steal $3,000 of computer merchandise, but that's another story all together.) But thanks to the help of all our wonderful volunteers and the outstanding Street Sense board of directors, we were able to get through it all, with me still have (most of) my sanity in place.

Despite the nuttiness, I think Charles departure is for the better, and the timing – in retrospect – could not have been more perfect. On Friday June 23, we hired a new editor, Kaukab “Koki” Smith, who has some wonderful ideas and great energy and thankfully could start right away.

And on Sunday June 24, we had a thank you reception for our volunteers and top donors. The event also was to promote our new poetry book “Street Verses” and including some powerful readings from vendors. While the reception was in honor the support over the last year, it really was appropriate to close out the last month when every volunteer and board member really stepped up in all ways.

The Monday after Charles left, I sent an email around to all the volunteers, letting them know, and I got 22 responses from volunteers offering to help out in anyway from rewriting stories to helping to organize the office. Below is just one of them that illustrates our volunteers' dedication:

So sorry to hear the news! That's pretty unbelievable. Hang in there!
I'm at a crunch time with work, but let me know if I can help and I'll try to get it done.
Cheers, Jo

In fact, in my email, I mentioned that we needed a last book review done, and five different people offered to review it, including one who already read the book.

Also, Street Sense could not have come out successfully these past two issues without the help of our fabulous summer intern Daniel Johnson. Thankfully he started helping out at Street Sense two weeks before his internship began. This was critical as he got to meet Charles and see what we are about before being thrown into writing a last minute article, laying out half the paper, and making all final editing changes to the paper.

I could personally have not made it through this last month without the support of the dedicated Street Sense board of directors. They offered up their support and shared stories of other their experience with employing jumping ship last minute. I appreciated comments like “I would work for you and wouldn't mind you being my boss,” and “It clearly wasn't meant to be and perhaps the absolutely most perfect person is now waiting in the wings.”

Boardmemer and co-founder Ted Henson was a lifesaver, helping with coordinating the editing process for the June 15 issue. Boardmember John Snellgrove really stepped up to help logistically pull off the thank you reception and poetry event. And all the board member really came through in force with the financial support for the thank you reception and future operations.

And obviously I would be remiss not to mention the help and encouragementfrom vendor manager Jesse Smith. Though this last month included a few rough days with him as well, we have pulled through it all and the organization and Jesse are looking to be much better off for it.
With this large network of support, Street Sense has made it through a rough month and is finally on the up and up. And I am finally looking forward to see what the next few week will hold.

As our board president Robert Egger told me when everything seemed bleak for Street Sense a few weeks ago: “It'll be a rough climb, but if we work together we can climb out of this ditch and build and even stronger Street Sense.”

And, indeed, with our dedicated volunteers, staff and board, a stronger Street Sense is where we are at. -- LAURA

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