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North Shore Area Partners Seeks Executive Director

Much has changed and many challenges have been faced in the nine years that Lise Abazs has worked for North Shore Area Partners (NSAP). Reflecting on the achievements and ac­complishments of the organization over that time, Lise, the current Executive Director, feels that they are at the right stage to bring in a new leader.

“Things are going really great now, so it’s a really good time for another person to step in,” she said. “They don’t have to fix things, they can re­ally just jump in with both feet and take it whichever direction is next.”

The direction NSAP has been going is up, above, and beyond. Formed in 2003, the organization was founded to provide care for local elders, connecting them with community-based programs to support them living in their homes for as long as they were able. The non-profit provided services such as trans­portation, meal deliv­ery, chores, visits, and organized social and educational programs.

In 2019, NSAP ex­panded services to in­clude in-home health aids. In 2020, they acquired (by dona­tion) the Wells Fargo building in downtown Silver Bay, allowing the programming to include more gather­ings, meetings, create a medical loan closet, and much more.

The organization of­fers an amazing num­ber of services. When I asked a staff member in an earlier interview about what services NSAP provides, I re­membered that she told me that if someone had a need, they would try to fill it.

That staff member is one of eighteen now working for NSAP. When Lise started, she was one of three. She had aging parents in the Twin Cities and traveling frequently to assist them wasn’t feasible. Her sibling was able to move in to care for them, so Lise jumped on an opportunity in Sil­ver Bay to become a part-time bookkeeper for NSAP. “I took it because I thought this is something I can do in my community that represents the sup­port that I wanted to be providing.”

She soon moved up into a leadership role and, when Mabel Tar­lton retired, became the executive direc­tor. She accepted the position, advising the board that she would remain part-time for the role. But then, “things happened,” said Lise. “Opportuni­ties crossed our paths and the needs made themselves known.”

In the spirit of ser­vice that the aforemen­tioned staff member stated, NSAP took on the biggest need that presented itself: in-home care. Unable to attract agencies into the area, Lise and the board worked tireless­ly to take on the issue head-on. They were able to attain a license and expand into higher-level services.

“Our core is still neighbors helping neighbors and encour­aging the community to support our old­er population. To be aware and provide a good place and the ability for people to live in their homes as long as they want in our community,” Lise said. Adding depth to how they are able to assist the aging com­munity members and their families has al­lowed the organi­zation to “be more than just working around the edges, but actual­ly working to the core that is most needed.”

It’s fulfilling work and Lise is excited for the next executive di­rector to come in with new ideas and ensure the momentum con­tinues. “It’s more than just a job,” she said. “This is an opportunity to be a really important part of our community growth in the area.”

Of her role, Lise de­scribed it as being an orchestra conductor. “I kind of know how to play all the instru­ments, don’t necessar­ily play them the best, but I know how they work together and how they make music, but I’m up there kind of swinging my baton and doing it in a way that makes good mu­sic.”

Whoever takes the baton will need to have a strong head for numbers, as there are lot of grant writing and budget responsibilities involved. (More of the qualifications are con­tained in an employ­ment ad on page 15 in this edition of the Northshore Journal.)

Outside of the tech­nical requirements of the role, Lise empha­sized, “The organiza­tion needs someone who can envision a good path and has the energy and ability to inspire people both within the organiza­tion and the communi­ty to meet that vision.”

“It is really im­portant that whoever comes in is embedded in the community,” Lise said. “Somebody who is really dedicated to the community and sees it not just as a job but because they want a better community.”

She described the staff as stellar and very strong. She is confident that they will make it easy for her predecessor to jump right in. Step­ping away from them is the roughest part, said Lise, but she isn’t planning on go­ing very far. She finds value in serving the community and will continue to do so, alongside other inter­ests like farming.

Congratulations to Lise on her retire­ment. Thank you for all the work you, and your crew, have done to support creating a culture that fosters an age-friendly environ­ment.

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