With the holiday season wrapped up and a new year underway, let’s get some updates from our fabulous CEO, Jaye Kennedy.
Please read below about what Waypoint accomplished in 2023, and what is in store for 2024!
- What have we accomplished in 2023 that you are most proud of and why?
Each year, I am truly amazed at all Waypoint has accomplished. But this year, I am particularly proud of our staff as we are serving approximately 20,000 people in need. That’s up from 13,000 just three short years ago! It’s kind of a double-edged sword in that there are that many people needing help in our communities, but the good news is that there definitely is help for them. Waypoint is doing this on a budget that is tighter than ever, and our team understands how important what we do is to our clients. We are working hard to take care of our team by emphasizing good self-care. Our supervisors encourage their team members to take time away for this exact purpose. Each employee has self-care days available to take throughout the year, beyond personal and vacation days. Most of our employees work directly with individuals who are facing a housing instability, domestic violence, poverty, or have lost a loved one due to homicide. In addition, we provide high quality child care for over 200 children every day. This can take its toll on the emotional health of team members if not kept in check. I’m so proud of our employees for all they do to help others while also taking care of one another.
- As we transition into 2024, what do you think our greatest opportunity for growth is?
I believe one of the greatest opportunities for growth lies within our Housing Services department. Waypoint is transitioning to a better model for helping those facing a housing instability. Studies released by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) highlight the importance of “Housing First” approaches to end homelessness. This approach prioritizes providing housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus ending their homelessness, and serving as a platform through which they can pursue goals and improve their quality of life. This is proving true here as the use of Waypoint’s Coordinated Entry, Rapid Re-Housing, and Homeless Diversion/Eviction Prevention programs is increasing significantly. We are very excited to facilitate this change and look forward to helping our clients move forward!
- What are some updates on the path we’re set to take for 2024 or what adventure are you most excited for?
2024 will mark Waypoint’s 130th year of existence. We are one of the oldest non-profits in this area and it’s taken keen vision on the part of our past and current volunteers and staff to play such a vital role in our community. I find it extremely encouraging to see the support this community continues to have for the work Waypoint does. We are going to keep doing what we are doing … because we make a positive impact and help change people’s lives for the better. In the new year, we will make the adjustments needed to offer the best solutions for our clients while living our mission of inspiring people to move forward. Carrying the vision of those who’ve gone before us and moving this mission forward is tremendously exciting!
- What can the community step in and support in 2024?
Honestly, the best way to help Waypoint is to contribute. As I mentioned earlier, we are operating on a tighter budget than we’ve ever had; yet there are thousands more people in need. We simply cannot meet these needs without the financial help of our community. One of the best gifts you can give someone is to donate to Waypoint in their name. We learn a lot from children … case in point, we’ve had little ones come by and donate the birthday money they’ve received … or had a birthday party and asked for only money for Waypoint! It doesn’t matter the size of the gift because it all makes a difference to us!
- Are there any other thoughts you would like to share?
We have a staff of about 140 incredible people. I am so grateful to each team member for the passion they bring to Waypoint every single day. They truly live our mission of inspiring people to move forward. Waypoint would not exist if it weren’t for all the volunteers who invest their time here. Whether it’s helping wrap Christmas gifts, planting flowers, serving on our Board of Directors, monitoring our Endowment, reading to children, or advocating for a victim of domestic violence; we appreciate everything you do! Finally, Waypoint owes this community so much for its kind generosity and for believing in the work we do. Our community makes Waypoint stronger!
130 years ago, Waypoint started as Cedar Rapids’ chapter of the Young Women Christian’s Association (YWCA). In going over our history, it feels like we’ve been on the same journey of inspiring people to move forward in times of change since our inception. That has always been our central purpose, the foundation that has been our true north as we grew to become the Waypoint we are today...
Over the past five years, we have seen tremendous growth within our Housing Services and the number of individuals served has increased by more than 10,000 individuals. With this increase in services comes the need to clarify with our community what services we are providing, why some of them are changing, and how we are keeping these changes centered on Housing First practices.