By Alexis Potaman
Last Summer, Houston Oasis and the greater Oasis Network experienced an unprecedented change in our leadership structure. Because of the drastic change and the many questions that came with it, Oasis hosted our first ever “Town Hall” event. As the leaders of Oasis, we wanted to let the community know of the change as well as answer the community’s questions as effectively as possible. During this Town Hall, we received amazing feedback which have led to many structural changes in how we operate.
This year, I called a second Town Hall event to share the “nuts and bolts” of Oasis and once again take any questions the community may have. At the risk of tanking the Oasis Blog with the driest blog, I felt it was important to share for those who were unable to make it.
During the 2018 Town Hall, we, the board, assumed everyone knew us. Whoops. The first question we received was “Who is everyone?”. While this has hopefully changed with Eric’s initiation of Board members acting as weekly emcees, we recognize not everyone knows who is on the board or what our roles are. We are currently a board of seven: myself (Alexis Potaman), Jesse Hudgens, Wil Jeudy, Gary Houle, Jean Horst, Janey-Ali Rizvi, and Laura Whittenton. If you ever have any questions, you can always talk to us on a Sunday or email us at Board@HoustonOasis.org.
Some of the biggest changes have come with the addition of new board members this year. We’re pleased to have Wil, Gary, Jean, and Laura join us. Wil has been working on building inter-community partnerships; Gary has taken on perhaps the hardest job – Board Treasurer; Jean is co-chair and liaison for the newly created Care Response Team as well as the coordinator for Community Groups; and Laura is the chair for our newly formed Speakers Committee.
The creation of our Care Response Team and our Speakers Committee are some of the biggest changes that have happened in 2018-2019. Terry Ismert did a fantastic blog entry earlier this year on the newly formed Care Response team. The specific focus is to support Oasis members during major life events, provide a secular alternative to religious ceremonies (such as weddings and funerals), and connecting members with others in the community for support during times of crisis. The committee has grown from a team of three to a team of six.
The Speaker’s Committee was formed last fall with the purpose of. seeking a diversity of voices and topics, seeking input from the community when searching for speakers, and creating interesting and engaging Sunday programs in line with our core values. We have had fantastic community moments and main talks in the past year, and we’re all really looking forward to year two.
Hopefully you’re still with me at this point.
In addition to these changes, the Oasis Leadership held a semi-annual Strategic Planning session for the year to decide where to allocate resources. Out of this session, we decided on five key goals:
Organize a building search team to find a more permanent space. This space could be another weekly space or a more permanent building that we could have access to 24/7 (the latter is expressly the goal). All of the funds that were raised during our 2014 building fund fundraiser are located in a separate account and the board allocates $200 a month to the account in order to one day make this dream a reality.
Organize two rounds of community groups. For those of you who do not know what a community group is, it’s a chance for you to meet with local Oasiens nearer to your side of town. There is typically a short video followed by questions to help get people thinking and talking, and plenty of time to socialize (usually around snacks or a meal). Thanks to Jean and her team, we have successfully had one six week session this year already. Approximately 80 people met at six groups across Houston to discuss and learn “Effective Communication”. If you are interested in hosting a group either in your home or in a restaurant or in joining the planning team, please contact Jean@houstonoasis.org.
Create a Community Engagement Coordinator role. This is a role to help connect Oasis members with ways to get involved with the organization, be it family friendly events, helping out with the welcome team, sound crew, etc. Jesse Hudgens has stepped up to fill this role and has done so splendidly.
Promote Inter-community partnerships. This goal is to identify other secular organizations as well as non-secular organizations that meet our core values serving needs in the greater Houston Community to promote partnerships with them.
Organize an annual fundraising event (the first to be held in 2020). This one has not yet been started, so if you are interested in helping with this event, please let us know.
For those who weren’t able to attend the town halls (or even if you were)I hope you have gleamed some insight into how Oasis operates and what are plans are.
Finally, I would like to give a huge round of internet applause to all of the volunteers that make Oasis happen. We are a 100% Volunteer run organization. From the sound crew that shows up at 9:30 to set up, to the Childcare Team, to those who do our social media presence, to those who would put me over the word limit if I listed you all, THANK YOU!