Speech by Executive Director Dave Garnand at the annual CHNW Appreciation Party, January 12, 2014.
We live in the most safe, most prosperous times ever – for human beings. We are so much more free from premature death, we have more to eat than ever before, and our interesting technological advances would make our lives seem simply incomprehensible when viewed from any other time in the history of humanity.
With that said, we also are able to destroy our habit and make it unlivable for ourselves and, though there is less, there is still significant suffering in the world.
The future, our human future, is largely in our own hands.
We are very blessed or fortunate, or lucky or however you describe the incredible life we have and world we get to live in.
To me, each one of us, a free person, has a couple primary, high-level options in our lives; 1) we can take advantage of what we have been given to create as much comfort, safety, and security for ourselves as we can, or 2) we can take what I think of as a “leap of faith” and espouse a view of the world that says that my interests and your interests are integrally tied together; that what is good for one of us is good for both of us, and then take actions that seek the good of both I and thou.
At CHNW, we are in the education business. Everything we do hinges on the needs of students to became educated so that they can make wise choices in their lives and, if they so choose, can choose the second option and commit themselves to making their lives wonderful by collaborating with and contributing to the greater communities of which they are a part; from their homes to their school districts, from their states to their country – that is, this experiment in democracy to which we are all tacitly pledged – and to the greater world of which we are all citizens.
At College Housing Northwest, everyday I hear people expressing their appreciation for what they have, and taking actions that seek to benefit our whole community; student-tenants, fellow employees, and our partners.
My vision for CHNW goes beyond looking good on the income statement or trying to impress board members with our successes; my vision – what I see everyday in my mind’s eye – is a vibrant organization of wonderful people and of productive relationships whose very name -CHNW – and the names and faces of its employees is synonymous with caring, collaboration, thoughtfulness, and mutuality.
The whole CHNW organization; its board, its employees, the RAs and student-tenants themselves, have come along way in the last three years, but the paradox of a journey is that we will never get “there”, we are always “going” there.
When asked, recently, what 2014 is “the year of”; I thought for a minute and said, “It is our ‘Coming Out’ year.”
We have been in the basement, have been in the engine room, remodeling, altering, fixing-up, we have been talking with students, talking with employees, with consultants, talking with PNCA, Ai, PSU, PCC, New Avenues, OSU, exploring development – we have been learning and building, developing a sustainable “excellence” machine, an organization that is efficient, productive, and flexible. We may not be “there”, but, like I said, you never are, but we do have the culture in place and the systems that culture has created to allow us confidently go out into the larger community and be a partner, a supporter, colleague, and comrade to the schools and organizations that support education, that support community, that support democracy-in-action; collaboration to the benefit of all.
2014 is our year to wipe the grease off our hands, change our shirt, to go out and begin to actively work with the members of the community which support students going to college. Everything we do each day to continue to take great care of students will support us in that effort, but this year we will be talking and, especially, listening to the community to zero-in on what specific housing offerings CHNW can bring to make the lives of the educators and the lives of the students more productive and more successful.
This evening is dedicated to Appreciation. Appreciation to every single person who is here, to many who are not here, and to all those who are on the same path to supporting and enriching their own lives through supporting and enriching their communities.
It is that which we are appreciating tonight; that commitment, that spirit, that endeavor which calls each of us as free, autonomous individuals to commit our freedom and autonomy, or decisions and our actions, our minds and our hearts to a greater cause.
It is also a time to appreciate that we have a company that has great origins and great bones; assets, relationships with colleges, and a good track record of providing for the needs of students. For all of us who are privileged to work in this organization, it is a time to say, I have very fortunate; this is an organization of great value with which we are all entrusted as stewards and caretakers.
Thank you to all of our board members who have been nothing but supportive and so involved in the success of this organization.
Thank you to our partners, the schools and organizations with whom we have the opportunity to work.
Thanks to every employee at CHNW who gives her or his all to make CHNW great, and to the fantastic consultants and vendors who do likewise.
As a way of focusing our appreciation, I’d like to propose a toast to Stan Amy (who would shrug it off) – not just Stan Amy the person instrumental in getting CHNW started, but the Stan Amy who I’m sure Stan himself would look back at and says, “Oh yah, that kid!” That “Stan Amy” who is now an icon and a symbol to help us remember that it is not organizations that gets things done, but people, individuals banding together for a great cause.
Here’s to that Stan Amy and to that spirit of Stan Amy in every one of us, cheers!