NASCSP Day 1: A Warm Welcome and Visions for the Future

Posted by Macie Melendez on September 11, 2012
NASCSP Day 1: A Warm Welcome and Visions for the Future
Ellen Hester, "The Enthusiastigator" was the motivational speaker for NASCSP's conference opening.

There's no doubt that the weatherization world post-ARRA funding is going to be one of challenges. But, when you think about it, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) wasn't without them even with a plethora of funding. That's why during this morning's opening conference session at the annual National Association For State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) event in Atlanta, Georgia, board president of NASCSP and managing director of the community services and housing division of the Washington Department of Commerce, Steve Payne welcomed everyone by explaining the forecast: "Partly gloomy with a chance of doom."

Although that forecast was met with uneasy laughter, it is an unfortunate truth. The good news? This industry and this network of weatherization and community service program professionals are not giving up on their goals. "Our successes depend on so much more than individual programs," said Payne. "We need to learn from each other's experiences and create an even stronger network."

In order to do so, Payne laid out a list of priorities that conference attendees will be diving into in the days to come.

  • Priority 1: Use 21st Century approaches to ending poverty and achieving energy efficiency.
  • Priority 2: Secure strong roles for states and state authorities.
  • Priority 3: Maintain funding for the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) and WAP.

Other tasks for this industry include paying close attention to program initiatives, legislation, and what the network's purposes are. Tim Warfield, executive director of NASCSP echoed the sentiment: "We have to make our own future." And Lorraine Daniels, executive director of the Georgia Community Action Association shared strong faith in the industry and its goals. "This network is resilient, strong, and we're willing to stay the course," she said. "Investing in people is still the best strategy."

Performing Mental CPR

Right on cue to follow Daniels was a brightly dressed woman named Ellen Hester, who goes by the title "The Enthusiastigator." Hester came in with a positive attitude and a message fitting for all of those in the room: When you feel negative, perform "Mental CPR" on yourself and stir things up. In this case, CPR stands for Control, Power, and Resources—all of which happen to be solutions to almost any problem. She came into the room enthusiastic and left to a standing ovation. Here are a few thoughts and quotes she left us with:

  • What this industry does is not just a job. We have the ability to make a huge difference.
  • "You can make a difference, or you can make a dollar."
  • Person-to-person relationships are what matter most in our industry. She reminded us that if we think of everything we do as affecting another human being, we'll be better at what we do.
  • "The only way to get to excellence is with enthusiasm."

Hester was noticeably inspirational to nearly everyone in the room. She brought positive energy to a group of people who are busy, stressed, and have problems they don't yet have solutions to. It was a perfect way to kick off a week that's sure to be filled with answers, solutions, and most importantly, enthusiasm for a positive future for community action agencies and weatherization programs.

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