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Meaningful Results Emerged from Humble Beginnings

Emily Boyer
The WIRC has held events to raise awareness of community issues. In this case, a blue ribbon was wrapped around the McDonough County courthouse to bring attention to the problem of child abuse.

This is the year of changes. This nation has seen a change in its leadership, and with this change, there is a new focus and direction for the country. The anticipation of what lies ahead has sent shock waves throughout the country. In counties, cities, townships, urban areas, as well as rural communities, there is no level of government so large or so small as to remain untouched by what is being proposed for the future.

This will be a time of budget cutting and wise financial management. It will be a time for pulling together in order to make effective decisions, as well as a time for a pooling of resources in order to assist one another.

We at the Western Illinois Regional Council have also undergone an administrative change. We, too, have felt the financial pinch due to fiscal cutbacks. As a result, we are undergoing a metamorphosis, a change in character, and feel that our role will be more strongly defined and understood through these changes.

We view this not with trepidation, but with excitement as to the prospects that the future will hold. We view this as a time of renewal, strengthening and building. This is a time to strengthen established bonds, to rekindle friendships between our old allies and to build a solid foundation for the future for all in western Illinois. We at the Council are dedicated to assisting local governments with a myriad of activities. We are here as an ally and should be considered a support arm, especially in the difficult times that may be ahead.

We value your input and welcome your criticisms or comments. We look forward to working with you in order to build a better tomorrow.

That was my first article for the Western Illinois Regional Council’s newly instituted newsletter in July 1981. I had just assumed the directorship of the Agency and we were all in shock because of the tumultuous times that we were facing both nationally and for this Agency.

The organization was in trouble financially, many of the experienced and key staff had left and the future of this Agency was uncertain. And thirty five years later as executive director and almost 40 between my internship and years of employment, I recently wrote my last article as the agency’s executive director.

Credit Rich Egger
Suzan Nash

It is with humbled pride that as the former executive director I reflect on this organization’s accomplishments since its inception 44 years ago. The Agency grew from its meager beginnings of one staff person located in a small second floor office to a staff of over thirty with an office front just off the Macomb downtown square.

The programs and responsibilities increased over the years from its beginnings as a regional planning agency providing grant writing and administration services to our local units of government resulting in water, sewer and housing improvements throughout the region; to establishing a Community Action Agency in 1982 which has assisted thousands of persons with food, clothing, shelter and many other services; and the Victim Services programs since 1986 providing assistance to persons who have been impacted by domestic and sexual violence.

All of the programs and services offered are in keeping with the mission of governmental assistance and human services.

As a native of Canada who grew up in Florida, I came to Western Illinois University as a graduate student and like so many others; I found a home in western Illinois. I cannot express adequately how much serving this region’s units of governments and the residents has meant to me and that’s why, while I have stepped down as executive director, I continue to work part-time. I would be remiss if I didn’t state that the staff that worked with me while executive director was the best an administrator could ask for.

Therein is another reason that it is hard to retire and I would much rather remain as semi-retired for at least a bit longer. The staff was my team and my partners in providing the best services in this region. I think the respect and confidence that the funders have for the WIRC is reflective of their hard work and work ethic. To each of them, I have given my profoundest thanks for their ideas, inspiration, enthusiasm and commitment. They made my coming to work every day something to look forward to.

I also am grateful to the many members of my boards who have offered their support and commitment to me, to my staff and to the work that this agency does. As I close, I will reiterate my opening remarks: this is the year of changes for both our nation and this Agency having seen a change in leadership.

As you welcome the new Executive Director Shaun Pritchard, know that he looks forward to this opportunity to continue to grow this organization and effect positive change for the region and its residents.

Suzan Nash is the former Executive Director of the Western Illinois Regional Council.

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Tri States Public Radio or Western Illinois University. Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.