When Effective trumps Efficient

Feb 6, 2014

Casa Chirilagua 5K Fun Run 2013

One mantra we often utilize around the Casa office is, “It’s not efficient but it’s effective.” When we have an extremely high attendance rate at a parent meeting after many individual phone calls and house visits, we repeat to ourselves, “It’s not efficient but it’s effective.” Efficiency and effectiveness are always in tension in the midst of relationships. Whether we are sending a handwritten thank you note or taking time to truly show our thanks and appreciation in person, we struggle through the balance.

We’ve begun hosting coffee meetings (“cafecitos”) in the neighborhood, in efforts to share our story and gather information from Chirilagua families. This process is the first phase in the development of a comprehensive Strategic Direction plan. Throughout this first phase, we have been challenged by our mantra once again.

In our next phase, on March 15th, we’re inviting ALL of the Casa Chiri community (volunteers to parents, board members to staff) to participate in a one-day bilingual workshop on the 8 Key Components of Christian Community Development. This philosophy of ministry has significantly guided Casa from its inception and provides a foundational understanding for all to consider as we cast a vision for the future, asking “What’s next for Casa Chirilagua?”

With complete honesty, we could have made this process easier and more efficient by offering a few training days which are demographic specific (English vs. Spanish, Parent vs. Board, etc.); however, if our community is going to function cohesively, with all voices heard, from the chair of the board to a teenage student, we have to commit to working through the struggle of listening to and engaging one another in spite of social, economic, and language barriers.

March 15th will be more than a philosophical workshop. It’s an opportunity to put our belief and philosophy into action. This will be a day when we communicate via translators in order to be transformed by the perspective of others. We’ll learn together across socio-economic barriers. We envision an educated lawyer sitting next to a Central American mother, listening to her story about why education is a value she holds for her children – a value they share as they’re both mothers who have the same vision for their children. We hope to see a parent of a Kids Club student inspired as he hears what generosity means from the perspective of an elderly volunteer. Perhaps, a middle school student will tell a board member what makes her feel empowered and share her vision for restoration in her community.

The March 15th workshop will be anything but efficient; however, I can promise you, if you are willing to open up your heart, hear the stories of others, learn from a different perspective and allow the struggle to make us stronger as a community, it will be effective and you may even leave changed.

I invite you to come, join, engage, and see what happens.  I have a feeling God will meet us in this space, effectiveness will trump efficiency, transformation will occur, and it will be beautiful.

With the Hope of a Communal Vision,

PS – Registration is now open: http://bit.ly/CC8Key. Sign up to volunteer: http://bit.ly/volunteerMarch15. Find ways your church can help: http://bit.ly/liaisonsMarch15

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

Learn More

Get Involved

Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.