Recently Trustee Austin Knox has been crafting his Vision Statement for what he sees as important in our work here at Wayne Township. The following goals are some of his top priorities:
1) Give the people who come to us for assistance a sense of hope. We know that oftentimes coming to the township is a last resort for people in need. The townships are an important part of the social safety net, and we are here to help when other resources fall through. Indiana is unique in providing this kind of financial assistance on such a local level where the trustee is chosen by an election of the township voters every four years. Ever since the late 1700’s the township trustee office has been there for its citizens in need, and we want people to know that we are always here when they need us.
2) Treat everyone with dignity and respect when they come to us for assistance. People in financial trouble are having a hard enough time, and they don’t need to be brought down further by poor or disrespectful service from those helping them. We are constantly training to meet the needs of our client in a way that lets him or her leave our office with their head up high, ready to face the challenges with their self-esteem intact
3) Equip people with skills to succeed in life; not just putting a band aid on the immediate problem and sending them on their way but giving them tools to save them from needing more help in the future. When clients come to us for assistance we spend time with them, looking at their needs and resources and showing them how they could make different choices that stretch their limited dollars to make ends meet. Our workfare, employment and training programs then connect people with employment opportunities, and we help them to hone the skills that help them keep those jobs.
4) Help as many people as possible while staying within township standards and the Indiana law that governs our operations. Township government has provided assistance in good times and bad. In just the last twenty years we have been in two of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, and during those times we have had to craft our budget in order to help a lot of people. This has sometimes required us to rebalance the amounts of assistance available in order to be able help all the eligible citizens who need us. As our former trustee put it, sometimes we’ve had to spread the peanut butter a little thinner to be able to help everyone who needs us.
5) Be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. As an elected official the township trustee is always aware that he has been elected to not only help the citizen in need but also to watch over the budget he has been put in charge of, saving money whenever possible.
These guiding principles are helping us to do the job that townships were formed to do which is to help citizens in financial distress while being cognizant of the needs of the budget—an important balancing act of service and stewardship.