After 30 years of service, time for a fresh ministry
As one of the founders of Island Elderly Housing in 1976, and as its only executive director to date, I want to announce to all of you residents that I am retiring from IEH at the end of this month. I have no plans to leave the Island - at least not right away.
It is clear to me, and to those who know me well, that I am being called to a different kind of ministry than the bricks and mortar kind of social action that IEH has always been about.
I hope to resume some kind of one-on-one chaplaincy, maybe go back to school just for fun, after a few months of rest and relaxation. It's time for me to really stop and listen to that "still small voice," which appears to be leading me in a new direction.
To quote the Buddha: "Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart give yourself to it." IEH has been my ministry, and my work and all my passion and energy for 31 years has gone into steering the organization to where it is now. Sometimes the road has been bumpy, but despite the rough spots, we have nevertheless been successful in providing 165 subsidized and really nice apartments, supplemented by supportive services.
For me, at this point in my life and work, however, the administrative responsibility of managing 12 corporations (part of HUD's requirements) has taken the creativity out of this work, and I am ready for a new non-administrative challenge or two.
I notified the board a year ago and the staff a few months ago that I was planning to retire soon, and now is the time. Before leaving IEH, I wanted to see Aidylberg and Hillside III through to completion. These three buildings are finished and occupied. I wanted to make sure that we had our new Blueberry Van. It has been ordered and should be here within the month.
My mentor and a co-founder of IEH, Margaret Love, used to say "When you see a need, you give thanks to God for the opportunity to serve." I am very grateful to have had this incredible opportunity. I have loved the planning and initiating of new projects, new programs, and I have loved being a part of the lives of the IEH tenants during the past 25 years since we opened Hillside Village in 1982.
Recently, I have been saying that I have been working with the elderly longer than most of you have been elderly. Now I'm almost there myself. It feels right to be taking a different turn in my life at the age of (almost) 60.
On a rock on the Pacific coast of California is carved, "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." I hope that I have done that and that I have had a part in making this Island a slightly more secure and affordable place for our elderly and disabled residents.
A socialist at heart, I confess that I have loved feeling a little like Robin Hood, taking the millions of dollars of available government money (it being ours anyway) and using it to create the homes that all of you now have.
I am proud and humbled at what IEH has accomplished - our development team, board, staff, tenants - and even the government - together .
I cherish the friendships I have with many of you residents and hope that they will continue once I am retired, and that I will be able to volunteer through supportive services in whatever way I can be useful.
Thank you all for sharing your friendship and, in many cases, your life stories and your prayers with me. What a privilege it has been. I will miss you.
God be with you all.
This essay, written by Carol E. Lashnits, executive director of Island Elderly Housing, was included in the August IEH newsletter sent to residents in the organization's several rental housing facilities.