Situated in a tiny office off West Main Street in Boise, two women perform a vital role for Interfaith Sanctuary. They take an abstract set of ideas and bring them together. Like a puzzle, a picture begins to form and the results are integral to the operation of Interfaith Sanctuary, and the perpetuation of this important organization.
Share Maack and Amelia Valasek are the development staff for Interfaith Sanctuary. Their work is not glamorous. Yet, there is an immediacy about it that cannot be ignored. Both believe what they do has a direct and positive affect on their community. This is why they do it. Sitting in the Alaska Center, Sanctuary’s home for administrative offices, I talk with Maack and Valasek. As we begin to unravel the importance of development, I am struck by their selfless demeanors. Both shrug off their work as if anyone could do it. They talk only about the importance of outcomes while they dismiss offhand any self-importance that may be attributed to those outcomes.
“I am Sanctuary’s first ever Development Director,” Share Maack says. “The Board saw a need to increase and focus their development activity.” Development, she tells me, is the identification of resources. More important though is what that information implies. “We want to get to know our donors,” Maack says. Development is about building relationships, fostering them and allowing them to flourish. “The concept is that every once in a while we will get a rather large donation from someone we don’t really know.” This elicits a strong emotion in Maack and Valasek. They believe it’s important to respond and form a relationship with donors because each donor has responded to some internal mechanism. Maack tells me each person or group gives for a different reason. Some give financially and that is critical to Sanctuary’s general operating budget. Others want a more visceral experience. “It’s great to have someone offer something we don’t have,” Maack says. “I’m thankful that our donors have stuck with us.”
Amelia Valasek conducts research about which databases would be best for an organization of Sanctuary’s type and size. She analyzes what is given by donors, and how often they are giving. “This information is useful when we want to build relationships,” says Valasek. “I build a picture from all these pieces of information.” The picture is of utmost importance. Valasek left a life of science to pursue what she felt was more important. “I wanted to feel connected with the world around me. I needed to feel like my work had a more immediate affect,” she says. Valasek comes from a technological background and since, has focused on better ways to communicate complex information.
Sanctuary’s Board of Directors recently returned from their annual retreat where they approved the 2012 development plan for the organization. Key focuses for the year include expanding and deepening the supportive services program, and completing essential renovations. A well-designed space that supports guests to create a better life is a major goal. “We want to get more people engaged on the path to a healthful life. Those are Ed Keener’s [Board President] words and I appreciate them because I feel they are clear,” Maack says. This year’s development plan focuses on expanding outreach to faith-based organizations. Local houses of worship were and still are a major part of why Sanctuary exists. However, there are many more faith-based organizations in the community that need to know about the shelter and how they can engage their congregations in this essential work.
Share Maack’s whole life has been geared toward non-profit work. “When I was in college I saw a poster that said you can’t pull yourself up by the bootstraps when you have no bootstraps. That sentiment has been around for a long time,” she says. She feels that social consciousness is an important part of being a civil society. “Our work is such an elemental need.”
When asked to draw a picture about what is important, most people will first draw a house. Mom, dad and the rest of the family live in that house and grow together. The need for shelter is an integral part of being alive. The idea that there are people in the community like Share and Amelia comforts me. They are leaders in creating the right kind of social consciousness. One where the well-being of the people in our community is a common concern for all.
By Barry Franklin,
PR Team Writer Interfaith Sanctuary