Looking back to look forward

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

by Jocelyn A. Sideco, CVN Associate Executive Director

I think I first heard of a race car driver’s name in Amy Grant’s song, Good for me. I kept wondering, “Who is Mario Andretti?” Apparently, this Italian-born American has successfully distinguished himself in the field of racing and motorsports and is synonymous with speed. 

Although I have never seen or participated in professional speed racing, I’ve seen enough pictures and heard some stories to make a bit of connection for us in the field of faith-based service. 

Our network is comprised of seasoned leaders in service, as well as those learning the ropes of the non-profit world as it serves as a caring balm in this not-so-perfect world we live in. I just wonder if our drivers, and our crews, need a bit more than just the high of circling other cars on a track that was designed for this one purpose. 

I’ve only been working for CVN for one year, and in that one year much has happened! I’ve met many of you on Zoom, on Instagram, on Facebook. I’ve had many laughs on Remo and via text messages and have giggled via Teams. I’ve worked for this network in Denver, Oahu, Portland, Takoma Park, New Orleans and Burlingame, CA. Many of you are familiar with my living room, my kitchen, my church office, my car, my local coffee shops and my two young children.  

What a time to be alive! I didn’t realize saying yes to part-time, asynchronistic, digital work would have gotten me and CVN into this opportunity to question everything and do a deep dive into our very purpose. After months of supporting CVN’s digital presence in the height of the pandemic, I moved into a larger role. Serving as CVN’s Associate Executive Director puts clarity of my purpose a bit more at the center or our organization’s necessary evolution. Some might say it was “clutch” to show up when I did because our tiny staff needed to reconsider how the engine and the wheels of our CVN mobile functioned more smoothly. Over the past 6 months, in particular, we have down-sized our office, re-prioritized staff time, and adjusted from in-person to remote. In addition, we are exploring a potentially major re-centering of our mission and vision and are doing so in conversation with member organizations and partners in the work of faith-based service. Many of our recent member offerings and programming reflect this discernment. 

Our staff has been testing what it would mean to physically downshift, to live more simply including making our carbon footprint smaller. We are beginning to re-engage a vision of community where placing the most vulnerable in our midst is central. For those of you who drive manual cars, you know that a downshift involves either an easing off the gas or a pumping of the breaks before there is a complete stop.  

These times are no longer dictating business as usual. I’m convinced that by leveraging our network, more and more people in our communities may live fuller, more beloved lives together. What does this look like? We are beginning to ease off the gas on our past practices of recruiting. The RESPONSE Directory is smaller and more focused this year, seeking to more accurate and succinct in a world where Google helps us find what we need. We are not able to hire a dedicated recruiter this year and therefore, have broadened our support of member organization recruiters. In-house we have with a dedicated Makers’ Space every Thursday that crowdsources information about the latest service fair or opportunity to connect with campus partners. Beyond our network, we have partnered with VolunteerMatch and our entire network can be discovered through their website and partnerships. And finally, instead of sending a temporary recruiter to campus advocates on your behalf, Yonce will visit a variety of campuses and attend service fairs. This will help us re-engage partners and possibly re-start conversations about faith-based service and non-profit career paths in this time of greater awareness about the impacts of racial injustice.   

CVN has begun to access our own structural opportunity to address inequality and inequity through deepening education, training and skill-building. It’s a gift to center our CVN process and way of proceeding on values of inclusion and expansiveness. In the midst of easing off the gas, we are rounding into a corner where our key partners are organizations who can equip us with an imagination and a know-how that can interrupt and disrupt the status quo. 

Maybe it’s timely, maybe it’s just a coincidence, but in the world of motorsports, Bubba Wallace just made history as the 2nd Black driver to win NASCAR’s cup race. If you recall, Bubba found a noose in his garage just a year ago prompting an FBI investigation. I can’t help but think despite our best efforts to care for the hungry, clothe the naked, educate our children, and visit those in prison, until we address the systemic nature of inequality and racism, we will forever be at a distance from the ultimate vision of intimacy and interconnectedness that we’ve come to identify as God’s Beloved Community or God’s dream for the world. 

So, what do you say, CVN? Are we up to this collective task? Our next step? Participate in this month’s Re-Imagine Transformation, bring a friend, bring a journal, bring an openness… bring yourself to this moment… 

Register TODAY!

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