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Review for Alliance of Community Assistance Ministries, Inc. (ACAM), Houston, TX, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Two years ago, I was appointed Executive Director of Interfaith Caring Ministries (ICM). As an employee of the agency for over a decade, I have watched as my agency became a member of ZCAM (the pilot phase of ACAM), and then watched as ZCAM matured into ACAM, now an independent 501(c)(3). Now, as Executive Director, I no longer watch - I am an active participant in the ACAM collective.

Over the last 2 years, I have realized so much about what challenges an Executive Director. I learned that I can’t make everyone happy, that I can’t get all of my work done in 40 hours a week and that meeting agency budget goals can be difficult in an unstable economy. But increasingly what I’ve come to realize are all the things that I CAN do - much of it due to the incredible support I have received through ACAM.

I can admit I don’t know how to deal with a personnel issue, but more importantly I can find others that have dealt with the same issue and get some great suggestions. Access to the trainings provided by ACAM has helped both me and my staff learn ways to keep lines of communication open.

I can share that our sales are down at the resale shop, but more importantly I can call on my peers to find creative ways to significantly increase the revenue that is vital to sustaining our programming. The ACAM Thrift Store Institute has helped my staff immeasurably with training on pricing, merchandizing, marketing and everything in between.

ICM has received almost $400,000 from ACAM for capacity building projects, professional development and needed services, but just as important as the grant funds is the technical assistance and guidance that allows my agency to leverage the funds and increase their impact in the community. In addition, my agency was awarded funding through the collaborative initiatives program that we were only able to access as part of the collective.

We can't anticipate the next food shortage, hurricane or recession. That's not our job. What we can do is work together through ACAM to create a strong infrastructure whose job it is to respond to crises as they happen.

One of the most valuable and rewarding experiences has been participating in the Executive Director Networking Group. Every month I look forward to sitting around that table of 12 and learning to be a better leader. Maybe it comes from hours and hours of committee meetings or the knowledge that many of them are just a phone call away. Whatever it is, I am a stronger, more confident leader and Interfaith Caring Ministries is a stronger agency because of our affiliation with ACAM.

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