HTM Blog

Connecting learning and community.

The Holyoke Tutor/Mentor program connects volunteers to adult education classes in Holyoke.

New Year, New Mission Statement

New Year, New Mission Statement

Welcome to 2017! 

I'm excited to welcome the new year with a refresh of our mission statement.

The making of ...

I started thinking about our mission statement because a (rather bureaucratic) program-assessment tool I'd been tasked with completing asked me to.

The old mission statement was, well, fine.

But, at a minimum it needed an update to reflect new acronyms, and, it didn't inspire much sense of mission. So I spent time this summer, when PAFEC was echoingly quiet, sitting and staring at my office wall, reflecting on our work, and googling 'what goes in a mission statement' 'how to write nonprofit mission statement'. (Answer: it depends on who you ask)

But I also spent this summer sitting at hot, sunny farmers markets, far away from office walls and self-assessment tools, talking to people about the Tutor/Mentor Program (some of whom became new tutors, - Welcome!) Then, I spent this fall placing tutors and updating our trainings, talking about our students, and not knowing, and how connection drives persistenceAnd, personally, in this divisive and divided election season, I've taken solace from seeing people pull together to form community, including our tutors who come every week to help others.

In all these conversations and ruminations, questions and answers then themes and values began to coalesce. Some of them I knew (education, service) but some of them surprised me (connecting, community). It was the later two that emerged as keys. A confirmed introvert, 'connector' is not a role I would have expected to embrace, but it is at the the core of our work here at HTM.

All of which is to say, I've been pondering our work, and making seemingly endless tiny but meaningful edits to two lines of text for months. (Feel free to share this fact with your students, the next time they complain about editing an essay…) Along the way, I got hung up on the differing goals and on grammar points, emailed drafts to colleagues and dragged work into dinner conversations.

But, a few values guided the process: the mission statement had to honor the goals and contributions of each of the groups with whom we work (tutors, teachers and adult learners) and it had to speak to the higher purposes and values of our work (not only what we do, but why it matters)

As it turns out these aren't that far apart - students, teachers and tutors alike say they want to learn, to contribute, to make the world a better place. 

And, in the end I knew the mission statement was done, and right, when I could think 'if this is our mission, what should we do next year?' and generate ideas I wanted to pursue because they were aligned with the best of the program.

So, here's to a new year and a new mission. 


Thoughtful v.3: Serving
Thoughtful v.2: Learning

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