Unlike most of my coworkers, my major in college was not social work, but urban planning. I have a passion for community change, but one of the lessons I learned very quickly was that the work of community change is not fast work. I still remember being shown the plans for a fairly straightforward project during my first internship at a community development corporation – realigning an intersection at the heart of the neighborhood that had posed traffic and navigation issues in an important business district. The project was in its final phases of planning and they expected construction to begin sometime in the next year. And then I was told – “We have been looking at doing this for 10 years.” Ten years in the making! Ten years ago everyone agreed that something needed to be done, and their ideas were finally coming to fruition.
Of course, that’s not true of everything that they or similar organizations do – but it impressed upon me the importance of being able to hold onto a vision, no matter how long it may take to get there. Any number of higher priorities, road blocks, and distractions can delay even the most deserving of projects and plans. But the organization that can hold on to the vision of what could be and keep pushing towards it – that is the organization that will see success over its lifespan.
Destination: Home will complete the end of its original 10 year planning effort at the end of 2014, just over a year from now. The ultimate vision is to end homelessness – to see permanent housing and prevention services available so that no one in the community is left without options. My responsibility in this plan is to help develop prevention services with a coalition of local service providers and stakeholders.
Though much work remains to be done, I firmly believe that the work is worth doing, that the vision can be achieved, and that progress has been made. It is that belief that sustains me, allowing me to continue pushing forward, looking for opportunities and overlooking setbacks. This is not a job of immediate gratification, but of perseverance and hope. And because of the vision set by the community in Destination: Home and the efforts of the committees and coalitions charged with completing the work, hundreds of individuals in this community have a place to call home who otherwise would not.
Naila Carnagua has been the Prevention Coordinator for Destination: Home since 2009 and facilitates the Coordinated Entry Task Force. Prior to joining Aurora she was a program manager at the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development. She will spend the fall enjoying marching band contests with her two year old daughter and her husband, a local band director.