Thank you to Kiran Sood and The Gazette for a great article featuring our new Executive Director, Emily Blomme. Below is text from the article, or you can read it online here.
When Emily Blomme worked with Horizons, A Family Service Alliance, she was involved in the Survivors’ Program, which helps families of homicide victims.
“When I was with the Survivors’ Program, and we would meet families at the worst moment of their lives … they have just been told that someone that they cared and loved deeply was taken by the hands of another, it’s such a raw level of pain,” Blomme said.
“To see people in that position, and then watch them make a transition to a point where they actually feel like they’re living again, made me recognize the value of crisis work. I’ve been with how many people when they laughed for the first time in months, years and they never thought they would get there.”
Blomme, 37, now executive director of Foundation 2 in Cedar Rapids, has run 11 marathons. In her Cedar Rapids office, a mounted collage of all her bib numbers is on display, including one from her first marathon in San Francisco in 2004.
She was compelled to run that race to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Her father died from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
She sees running a race as a time for her to clear her head. Free from distraction, she can focus on reaching the finish line.
“It’s a reminder of what I’m capable of because there’s always a moment in a marathon where you think to yourself, ‘What the hell am I doing?’” said Blomme, “It’s a motivator for me that even when my job gets hard, it hurts so bad, I want stop, but I don’t. It always feels better at the end.”
Perseverance and determination are skills Blomme regularly uses at Foundation 2. The Cedar Rapids-based not-for-profit provides crisis prevention and intervention programs.
The organization offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, a youth shelter, independent-living support for youth, mobile crisis outreach services and an after-hours food pantry.
To Blomme, crisis work is about stabilizing people and helping connect them to what they need. It’s not about saving people or rescuing people, she said.
Instead, it’s about meeting them where they are.
Blomme, from Fort Collins, Colo., earned her degree in human development and family studies from Colorado State University in 2000. She then she started working at Horizons, A Family Service Alliance, where she worked in different capacities until 2011 before leaving to manage the Iowa Substance Abuse Information Center.
In mid-February, Blomme moved to Foundation 2. As the head of the organization, it is her responsibility to lead, motivate and manage staff at the agency. She’s discovered her role includes coaching and mentoring of those working directly with clients.
But seeing staff succeed in the face of change is what she enjoys most.
“That’s why I feel like this is such a perfect fit for me, because I felt like I had done all this work at some level,” Blomme said. “This job just put it all together. It really is a dream job for me.”
Elizabeth Ray, past president of Foundation 2’s board, said Blomme’s willingness to work with others and her forward-thinking nature are among her greatest strengths.
“You cannot be an island in today’s world,” said Ray, director of quality management systems at Rockwell Collins. “You have to have those collaborative working relationships.”