Friday, October 30, 2009
Let me give you the set-up. The Rev and I are planning a vacation this next summer. After nearly two years of dealing with the aftermath of the flood, we want to get out of Dodge. In fact, we want to go far, far away. That means I need to get my passport renewed because it expires February 1, 2010.
I'll admit it - I've been dragging my feet. I just didn't look forward to the hassle. I imagined I would have to go down to the Post Office, get in line, and deal with a bored office worker who's only goal was to get through the day so they could escape to their home.
Well, I'm very happy to tell you that was NOT my experience when I finally went out today to get this off my task list and get the Rev off my case. This ended up being a very pleasant and enjoyable interaction with a very lovely and competent lady at our main Post Office. Her name tag said she was Kim and I'm sorry now to say that I did not get her last name.
I had gone online and visited the State Department's website about passport renewal so I had what I hoped were the proper forms all filled out. I had my old passport and I was ready to mail everything in to start the process. I just needed two passport photos. The site said that many post offices were able to take the photos and when I checked our Post Office website it said they provided that service so off I went to the post office. I figured I would just get the photos taken then I would step off to the side and prepare my package to be sent off to the Passport Processing Center.
When I got to the post office I was relieved to see a sign that assured me they could take my passport photos, but I couldn't see where that might be done. I must have looked a bit lost as I stood away from the counter checking out the area because Kim called to me from the counter and offered to assist me. I told her that I was renewing my passport and needed photos.
"No problem - I can do that for you." "Let's see what you have there.".
I emptied my envelop of forms and materials on her counter and she took over. She checked my form to make sure it was complete and signed. She took my photo, she got me a mailing envelop to send it in and pointed out the address where it needed to go. She reminded me that I needed to include a check for $75 to the State Department. In short, she walked me through the whole process and she did it with humor and a smile.
Kim didn't just do the minimum. All I really asked her to do was take my photo. Kim took it upon herself, as a professional should, to see to it that everything was in order and sent off correctly. When I left, I didn't have that nagging feeling that I left something out. I knew it was done and done right. Kim sold me more than 2 passport photos and postage for a letter.
I'm thinking Kim may reappear in one of my training sessions with my sales staff. She is an excellent example of excellent customer service.
Tomorrow is Halloween. Enjoy. And when the day is done I wish you -
Friday, October 16, 2009
Block by Block is a program created by a coalition of the Matthew 25 Ministry Hub, Four Oaks, and the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church. Here is how they describe it on their website.
What is the goal of Block by Block?
More than a year after the historic flood on June 13, 2008, there are still hundreds of Cedar Rapids homes uninhabitable or unoccupied. This has led to safety issues and larger concerns; what will happen long-term to affected neighborhoods and the people who live there?
The community needs a visible, immediate sign that there is organized progress.
Block by Block is a solutions-based, relationship-building approach that identifies and assists neighborhoods that want to come back to life. The program builds on the tremendous work already done by blocks, providing resources to make each property on the block fully habitable. Once an area is identified and a construction plan is set, private dollars, paid oversight and volunteer labor will rebuild the neighborhoods one block at a time.
The Block by Block development strategy is designed to create hope and encourage all property owners on the block to either reinvest in their property or arrange for a solution other than abandonment.
The goal is to complete eight blocks by the end of the 2009 calendar year. Limiting factors may include block participation, funding and weather-related delays. The real solutions come from within the block and work outward; each neighborhood moves forward by working together, communicating their needs at neighborhood meetings and supporting each other to bring back their block.
The money to start this program came from private funding. The initial seed money came from
John & Dyan Smith $1M
Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation $700K
United Methodist Church $200KThe goal is simple - go block by block to coordinate and support residents to reclaim their neighborhood. Nobody is required to participate and each homeowner is responsible for their own renovation. But the focus and the support has been a great asset to the homeowners. As you might imagine, participation has been very high in each block. I see on their website that the initial goal was to complete 8 blocks this first summer. I have been told that number has grown as the success of the program has become clear and many more blocks are wanting to be a part of this program.
There is still a great deal of work ahead before we can claim to have recovered from that flood last summer. But it will be programs like this and efforts of groups from within our community that will make that recovery happen.
Please keep our community in your prayers and as always, I wish you