For HKY4Vets, 2019 has been monumental - a year of so much "new" that it is honestly difficult to remember ALL that has been devised, planned, worked on, changed, moved forward and hoped for these past 12 months.
Try as I might to stay away from our own "End of Year List", it is impossible not to at least mention that as of January 1, 2019:
The organization never had a vision or mission statement nor a plan of work that defined our 2019 overarching strategies tied to objectives to carry out those strategies.
The HKY4Vets brand, to universally tie all of our efforts together, DID NOT exist. No logo, older mis-branded website, minimal social media efforts, etc.
HKY4Vets Talent Connect, our effort to engage veterans & military spouse talent with leading area employers 24/7/365 had not been designed and we had NO employment partners signed on to the young effort (currently 16 partners with opportunities to be found at www.hky4vetsjobs.com).
We had a limited focus on the factors that can make North Carolina the best location for both ACTIVE DUTY and RETIRED/SEPARATED military personnel and families - before our first ever partnership with the Catawba County Chamber's Legislative Taskforce to include veteran-specific items on this year's state legislative agenda.
We knew our community had a substantial demand for new single family and multi-family housing, but were anecdotally guessing at the full extent of the demand. This is before participating in a collaborative partnership among multiple non-profits to survey both employer(s) and employee(s) on their respective housing needs/demands.
There had been no discussions, no planning and no ideas to establishing our own internship program for military (& spouse) talent seamlessly transitioning their skill sets from the military to the civilian workforce.
All of that and more happened these past 12 months - with nearly all of it simply being no more than a glimmer at this point last year. It has been busy. It has been incredibly challenging. It has been a substantial amount of hard work on the part of many individuals and organizations. And yes, it has been fun and rewarding.
As monumental as it has been, it has been a year of transition...of building bridges from our past efforts to establish new foundations that will help HKY4Vets prosper in the years to come. For basically the last year, we have been consistently flying an airplane as the tail, jet engines, fuselage, struts and landing gear were being added mid-flight.
As 2020 will soon begin, it feels like now we have a fully-functioning airplane. It will never be the final version of our airplane (as we always seek to make upgrades), but it will keep us airborne, keep us safe and take us to the destinations of our choosing.
With so much of that building behind us, it feels like we can now grow. 2020 will be a year of growth and maturity for HKY4Vets. It is an exciting time and one that has us looking deeply into the ways we can leverage our newly created structures and grow them - think the internship/fellowship programs, think a regional social/professional/family network for military ALREADY HERE in the Greater Hickory Metro, etc.
Did we accomplish everything we set out for in 2019? Absolutely Not.
Will we accomplish everything we hope for in 2020? Never.
Will next year's "report" differ greatly than the path we think it will take as of today? 100% Certain.
And this is perfectly okay.
We believe these daily efforts with HKY4Vets (wherever they may go) have a positive, collective impact on our Hickory Metro community, our many company partners and ultimately these military families. Being an avid runner myself, I like to put it in these terms: "We don't know the exact race we are in or where the finish line will be, but it is important that we are at least running in this race".
We thank each and everyone of you that have helped support HKY4Vets in 2019. Your support has been noticed and it has been tremendous - we can only hope those relationships grow moving into 2020. We hope the best for you as well and offer up our support to assist you and our efforts to support our nation's military families however we can.