First impressions are a tricky thing. The professional side of me feels like introductions should be formal and I should tell all of you something impressive about myself or spout off my work history. However, that wouldn't be "me" at all. If we were meeting in-person (which if we haven't, we'll need to change that soon), I'd more than likely tell you all about my cat who, over the past couple weeks, has already impacted the way I think about this Network and care about its mission even more than I already did - which is saying a lot.
Yes, it sounds strange, but allow me to explain.
It's probably important to say that I'm an animal person - being asked whether I'm a cat or dog person is far more stressful than being asked for my opinion on certain political issues. I've been known to nurse injured woodland creatures who wandered onto my front stoop back to health and consider being a called a crazy cat/dog/animal lady a badge of honor. I'd like to think of myself as a modern day Snow White. So, when my senior cat, Banksy, was in visible pain last Wednesday morning, I dashed to the vet without a thought of how much his visit and subsequent treatment would cost.
Fortunately, the talented veterinarians were able to diagnose his near-fatal ailment quickly. For nearly three full days, Banksy stayed in the animal hospital under their watchful eyes, charming the staff into giving him more behind-the-ear scratches and belly rubs than they bargained for.
Unfortunately, his animal hospital stays resulted in a rather large bill. We're talking three times my monthly rent payment large. Thankfully, I took my mother's advice and have been saving for a rainy day since I landed my first job at age 15, so Banksy's bills were covered. However, after reading about payday loans and the repercussions of loans made at alarmingly high interest rates for days on end during my first week at Prosperity Indiana, I asked the office staff at the animal hospital what options would be available if I were unable to cover his tab. To my surprise, the only option presented to me was a monthly payment plan with a 55 percent interest rate. Fifty-five percent.
I know my problems are minuscule in comparison to the issues facing the Hoosiers the Network serves. However, it was a call to action - many do not have a rainy day fund they can pull from when an unexpected (and extremely expensive) life event of any kind hits them. When desperate times arise, sometimes taking the high-interest route seems like the only option, even if it means financial disaster down the road. And that's exactly why the work of the Network is so important and highly personal to me.
For those of you who may be wondering, Banksy is back at home and, much to his delight, on a wet food diet for the rest of his days. Doctor's orders. As for me, I come to the Network after years of helping community-based organizations amplify their work, connect to resources, and develop meaningful partnerships to achieve ambitious goals. That is why I am excited to hear and learn from you about ways we can make our state a better, more prosperous place for everyone, even on the rainiest of days.
We have exciting, but formidable work ahead and it will take a strong Network to accomplish our goals, so if you want to find out how you can get more involved, reach out!
I look forward to working alongside each of you in the days, months, and years ahead.
All the best,
Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network Manager