Tuesday marks the first full week since Ozark Action’s executive board of directors named longtime employee Terry Sanders the organization’s new executive director, and he has his eye on the future.
Sanders fills a vacancy left by Bryan Adcock, who retired from Ozark Action in September.
“I’m honored and humbled by the board and staff’s trust and confidence they have given me,” Sanders said. “I’m excited to move forward.”
His tenure with Ozark Action goes back to when he joined the organization in 1980 as a technician on a weatherization crew. He then worked his way up to become the housing director, a position he held for over 25 years.
“When I came here in ’80 I was self-employed in building, but the bottom just fell out of the industry around here and I came for just a steady paycheck to get through the winter,” Sanders reflected. “I started seeing the things we did were helping other people and I really liked it.”
Sanders said the weatherization program evolved over the years from a relatively simple operation to something much more sophisticated.
“When I first started we did simple low-cost improvements and temporary measures such as plastic on windows, caulking and weather stripping,” he said. “I’ve watched the program grow from that into today using a very sophisticated, leading-edge technology to increase energy efficiency in homes.”
He said weatherization also became more focused not only on energy savings, but also on heath benefits and making sure people live in a healthy environment.
The programs are not only for low-income families, in fact, Sanders said, the program’s limits are high enough that most people in the area qualify for assistance. Unfortunately, the program has a five-year waiting list because demand outstrips funding, he said, noting it shares that in common with other programs at Ozark Action.
Sanders said he hopes funding issues can be fixed in the future. While he doesn’t have any major upcoming plans for Ozark Action, he said, he sees the organization working more with community partners, private and public, to help serve the community and be a part of solutions.
He said he also wants to help improve staff retention and is focused on creating a place where people want to stay and work. Sanders said he wants to continue making the agency an all-inclusive organization where no one feels left out because of their circumstances.
Ozark Action, 710 E. Main St. in West Plains, is a nonprofit community action organization serving six counties with a variety of programs mostly focused on assisting low-income families. For more information visit the website, www.oaiwp.org, or call 256-6147.