Jesse’s Farwell Blog Post

I remember walking into North Light for the first time for my interview, all of the colors and the activities that were taking place in a relatively small space. I remember how it felt like home so quickly. As a 24 year old being offered a job as a Director of anything, I was mesmerized by the opportunity to serve in a leadership role at such a young age. Without much consideration of other options, I accepted the job.

It did not take long for me to realize that I had become part of a very special place. Though I had grown up just 30 minutes away (depending on traffic), I had never heard of North Light before applying for the Development Director job. Even today, North Light still remains relatively insulated to the communities it serves, and not enough people know about this amazing place. As a millennial, I know all too well about how community is fading away. A toxic lack of trust in neighbors and systems has eroded the social fabric that made humans such a powerful species. North Light uniquely builds community with a continuum of support that is focused primarily, though not exclusively, on those most in need.

The continuum of childcare, workforce development, and emergency services creates a space for people of all ages and backgrounds to find support. North Light undoubtedly deserves more support to continue to serve the Manayunk and Roxborough communities, as well as Philadelphia at large. The most important thing that North Light brings to the table is 84 years of honest and good work, which makes it the most trusted place in thousands of people’s lives. Yet I learned firsthand how difficult raising money for the good work of the organization is. I was convinced when I walked through the doors nearly two years ago that I would be able to double North Light’s revenues and turn it from an organization that fought to survive to one that could thrive. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in this.

There are so many people and systems to blame, but it would all be a waste of time. What is more important to focus on is that, despite decades of struggle, North Light continues to be there for its communities and all people in need who come through its doors. Griity and resilient are not often traits that are associated with an organization, but there are few other words that better describe North Light.

North Light has a reliable support base that helps the organization get by each year – and I am so grateful for everyone who is a part of this network – but the reality of the matter is that there is a huge need for more. I hope that as I move to DC and work in the advocacy and policy space more, I am able to ultimately fulfill my initial goal of doubling the organization’s revenues by creating new funding streams that lift up North Light and other organizations like it, providing support to some of our society’s most vulnerable populations. Increased support in the short-term would reduce long-term costs that continuously drive our nation’s debt higher, ultimately saving money for our society. It will take a long time for our economy to reorganize itself so priority is given to prevention. In the meantime, we will need to rely on support from our more privileged neighbors to support those who have less. This is not such a bad thing, as it brings out the true essence of community: neighbors helping neighbors.

I want to thank all of the incredible people that I have met and am so sad that I will not be able to say my goodbyes because of the coronavirus. I have learned so much from our constituents, volunteers, staff, donors, board, and other community members. I will never forget the lessons I learned and will take them through the rest of my life, hopefully to spread community around the world. As for North Light, I hope that it is given the opportunity to thrive and build community where it always has.

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