Mary Kemper
President & CEO

Last week, it hit me. Fall had arrived, and I wasn’t quite ready.

No, really. It literally hit me. A walnut-sized acorn landed on the crown of my head with such force that it momentarily threw me off balance.

Transitions can be like that. September can be like that. Suddenly, the days get shorter. The nights get cooler. Big and little kids go back to school and nearly everyone gets back to work. It’s dependably predictable – or predictably dependable, but whether we expect it to happen tomorrow, next month or a decade from now, change can still unsettle us.

As a friend said to me recently about a new chapter in his life, “You prepare for it mentally and emotionally, but when it happens, it’s still a surprise.”

I know from talking with many of you, it’s been a season of personal transition. You’ve packed up your kids to college, helped move Mom and Dad, welcomed a new child or grandchild, or announced your plans for retirement.

I also learned from visiting many of you this summer that your organizations are going through big changes. With new projects and partnerships, you are making strategic, intentional shifts. You are proactively repositioning, refinancing, rebranding, and, of course, recruiting. These are exciting, critical, necessary moves and struggles that also impact routines, culture and relationships.

Despite this, UMA leaders and supporters continue to embrace fresh challenges to further their reach.  Just this month, Anne Dunnenberger, Director of Outreach, Bridge of Hope, hosted by Asbury Communities gathered nonprofit community leaders in Frederick, Maryland to explore ways to work together to support homeless people in need. She is promoting powerful, positive and difficult change.

No one seems better at commemorating change than Jack York, co-founder of It’s Never 2 Late. With support from Varsity and Unidineand others,Jack is celebrating his 60th birthday and the 20-year anniversary of IN2L with an exhaustive 60/20 cross-country tour of carpool karaoke. To celebrate these milestones and honor successful aging, he has organizing residents, staff and even the most voice-shy supporters to belt out tunes. I know from experience.

During our recent Shared Learning Committee meeting in Atlanta, members reflected on the dramatic change that is expected to take place as a result of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA).

“We now have a chance to reshape congregate care,” one member said enthusiastically. And yet, our children and youth agencies are already experiencing some bumpy implementation and deep concern about the potential negative consequences of this well-intended legislation.

Change is part of our work. UMA ministries and business partners continue to take risks, innovate, and celebrate along the way.

This is where we are. This is our season. Ready or not.

This past weekend, my husband and I took a Sunday drive into the mountains to see the leaves which were beginning to turn. We rolled down the windows, and I felt energized by the changes in the air.

I’m ready now. Are you?

What can UMA and your UMA network do to support you through your transitions? Let us know. We’re here to help.