Darkest Before The Dawn
By nature, I’m an optimist. I’m realistic, but if ever possible I look to see any silver linings, any positive potential in situations I’m affected by or involved in.
Even for me, I can only describe the last few months as truly challenging. At times, heart-wrenching.
Since I was elected for the Board of Directors at Northeast Shores, I was privileged to get to know people I’ve seen around more deeply than before. I could see their effort and devotion and care for Collinwood up-close. While I (and no one I’ve talked with) have ever questioned the passion and dedication of staff or board members current or former, getting to see it with my own eyes on a level I hadn’t previously been fortunate to warmed my heart and made me more confident than ever in our future together, as a neighborhood. I have friends for life thanks to Northeast Shores and my Collinwood, ones I am fortunate to have ever met.
And that reality was what made the recent decisions to change Northeast Shores’ staff so difficult for me, and all involved. No one affected were ineffective, uncaring people. Everyone on all sides of the recent changes care about Collinwood and I wouldn’t have stepped forward to join our Board otherwise.
The hard reality is that Northeast Shores was in an incredibly tight financial situation. This reality isn’t the fault of any one person, and hopefully no one thinks that we believe that the staffing changes reflect those people’s responsibility in our situation. The organization had to eliminate two staff positions: Community Engagement Manager and Commercial Projects Manager. In a better circumstance, we would all still be working together, in the same capacity we were before, towards a better neighborhood. Unfortunately, the situation didn’t allow for any option other than the ones chosen.
The current staff, Executive Director, and the Executive Committee have been working to get the best information and options possible from community partners so that Northeast Shores could continue its work in the community. Our goal is clear: serving Collinwood, working with the residents and merchants, and improving our abilities to do so. In working to this goal we had to make some of the hardest decisions as an organization I’ve ever been in. In having the resolve to make them, I gained a profound respect for everyone tasked with such a heavy burden.
While the financial situation was incredibly tight, and the decisions made almost unbearably difficult, I do believe there is great hope for our neighborhood now that the worst of it is over. We have amazing merchants on East 185th, Waterloo, and in other growing areas on both sides of I-90. We have community stalwarts at Salvation Army and our Libraries. We have education partners dedicated to preparing our youth.
Very soon we will have a renovated LaSalle Theatre Complex to join the growth on East 185th. More merchants are investing here. East 152nd will be repaired, making areas south of the freeway more accessible and, if I have any say, more involved in our progress. The Waterloo Arts Fest will be the best yet.
The coming months will require all hands on deck at Northeast Shores, and because our staff and board are ready, I’m optimistic. Because our neighborhood has faced challenges and come out better on the other side, I’m optimistic.
I want us to keep this in mind as we move forward together.
Also, keep contact with everyone who has helped get us to where we are. Collinwood feels like family, and even in difficult times we stick together. I don’t see any reason that should change now.
Pub. Note: Long time beloved staff members John Boksansky and Julia Dibaggio were laid off Wednesday, May 31st.
Robert Gatewood Board Member of Northeast Shores
Resident of neighborhood since 1956. Worked on East 185th street since 1970.