The SOURCE brings businesses, government agencies and nonprofits together to help the community. It works to make healthy and stable homes for employees by providing access to resources and assistance. The SOURCE also provides training and opportunities, with the end goal of sustainable employment and self-sufficiency.
Michigan Nightlight: In your view, what makes your program innovative, effective or remarkable?
The SOURCE Executive Director Randy Osmun
: We are a nonprofit collaborative created and driven by business owners. The SOURCE partners with the local Department of Human Services and approximately 45 area human service organizations to meet the needs of the employees of our member businesses. Sometimes people come to work with messy lives. We work to untangle the complexity and provide resources to address their needs. Today's HR environment is driven by compliance. The SOURCE provides confidential services to employees. This reduces the burden on HR and ensures that employees are able to address sensitive issues without the worry of employment repercussions. Several of our member Sometimes people come to work with messy lives. We work to untangle the complexity and provide resources to address their needs.
companies hire refuges/immigrants, those previously incarcerated, people on welfare and returning Vets. The caseworkers at The SOURCE are well educated in working with people from diverse backgrounds and complicated histories. Our primary goal is to support people so that they can retain and maintain employment. We also work on training/education that supports advancement.
What was the best lesson learned in the past year?
People in Grand Rapids really do want to collaborate. I am new to the nonprofit world and have been impressed with the overall willingness to find and create partnerships – both formal and informal. As funding has started to become more difficult to find, organizations have become very creative in their partnerships and programming. Clarifying mission drivers and identifying other organizations in the community that have shared values is becoming more critical for everyone.
What was the hardest lesson learned in the past year?
To be the most effective and make the greatest difference in the community, you have to eliminate ego and not be afraid of failure. The SOURCE was inspired by Cascade Engineering's Welfare to Career (W2C) program. The current W2C program is the result of two other programs, which both failed. Each failure provided a tremendous opportunity for learning within Cascade Engineering. Fred Keller, the owner of Cascade Engineering, is an engineer by training. He sees failures as an opportunity to learn and reinvent. This attitude allowed the organization to go through cultural changes and create a program that is now admired nationally.
What really differentiates this program?
Our member CEOs really understand that business isn't just about profit, it's also about people and community. Some of our CEOs describe The SOURCE as a System of Shared Values and/or a Network of Preferred Employers. They are a group of independent organizations that choose to partner for the shared purpose of creating a support system for their employees.
Clarifying mission drivers and identifying other organizations in the community that have shared values is becoming more critical for everyone.
What are the keys to success for your program?
Committed businesses, a real partnership with the local Department of Human Services, and partnerships with 45 other human service organizations in the community are three keys to our success. I would add that having a staff that is dedicated, highly educated and committed to this community is also critical.
How do you innovate programming? Where do the ideas come from? How do you know if they are going to work?
The key is to not believe that you have all the answers, so the innovation and the ideas can come from anywhere. I think you need to have a willingness to be open to where the ideas can come from. And then how do you know if they're going to work? You don't – you have to be willing to try and not be afraid of failing.