Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Year's Resolutions and New Habits

What’s the first thing that comes to mind in January? A New Year’s Resolution! But I don’t “do” resolutions for the New Year… never have. One reason is because as statics show, most are not kept. However, what I do in replacement is to develop a new habit each year. I usually do this in December or late January. This allows me to not call it a New Year’s Resolution but rather “my new thing”.

One of “my new things” is to set a goal for charitable donations. I have always given but not on a planned basis. More like if there is extra money at the end of the month that extra money then goes to a charity or two. Mind you, not huge gifts, but remember it’s the small gifts that really count and add up tremendously. Think about all those $10 donations via text for the Red Cross to do good work in Haiti – they added up to tens of millions! My plan is to continue to support Senior Citizen Services as I always have but on a more planned basis. (I hope you do “your new thing” and join me in this supportive manner.)

I try to keep on hand a little extra money to support emergencies – again, thinking of Haiti. Or, when I read an article some time ago about the Georgia SPCA needing assistance, I was able to raid the small bucket to offer my support.

As an employee and donor of Senior Citizen Services, I value the fact that I know my donations really count, no matter the size. When employees give to the nonprofit for which they are employed that should tell the public a lot! The employees believe in the mission and work so much that they give back, and Senior Citizen Services’ employees really do give back.

If you have made a resolution, I hope it’s going well. If not, maybe think of it as now is the time to revisit it and make it your new “my new thing”. Good luck!

-- by Patrick O’Kane
Director of Operations

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monthly Support of Meals On Wheels Atlanta

This year, make a resolution to support Atlanta's seniors year-round!

Through our online donation system, you can make a recurring gift that will be automatically drawn from your credit card or bank account on the same day every month. A monthly donation of $142 will fund an entire month of nutritious, home-delivered meals for one older adult. Can you find 7 friends, family members, or coworkers who can spare $20 a month? Or 14 who can spare $10? Everyone can make a difference.
Monthly giving is:
▪ Easy - Fill out the online form once and you've supported hundreds of meals!
▪ Sustainable - You provide a continuous source of funding for those hit hardest by the difficult economy.
▪ Personal - A commitment to those less fortunate becomes a part of your daily life.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

THe Funding Roller Coaster

I will admit it. We took a ride. Our organization took a ride on the funding roller coaster in 2009. We were elated in December 2008 to learn that we were selected to provide major home repairs for low-income seniors as a part of Federal Home Loan Bank’s Community Investment Program. An unprecedented $1 million dollar grant was initiated in May and has been steadily helping seniors who were previously hard for our organization to serve due to the deteriorated condition of their homes. New roofs installed; systems completely replaced; lives changed. It has been an exciting program to say the least.

Now we have learned that funds for this program have been redirected in 2010 toward the home foreclosure crisis. Rehabilitating seniors’ homes is now lower on FHLB’s funding list of priorities than supporting transitioning foreclosed homes into affordable housing units. Ouch! We are all aware of the foreclosure crisis—millions of homes being left for vacant because the house payments cannot be made. But most of our seniors own their homes and actually have them paid for. Our seniors are not necessarily as at risk for foreclosure as others may be. But they are at risk for losing their independence because their homes have deteriorated to the point that they are not livable.

Obviously we have our work cut out for us on the advocacy front to help funding entities like FHLB understand the devastating effects of their priority shifts on our senior population and their communities. Why does it seem that to help with an emerging economic issue that often our senior population is placed on the back burner?

The question that I ask myself is “should we have gotten on this roller coaster to begin with?” Expanding is so much easier than contracting, isn’t it? Do we gain more than we lose by entering into these grant situations that we know may only last one year?

YES! I believe that we have a responsibility to help our seniors in need, even if it means only a limited number of seniors can receive such assistance for a short period of time—in this case one year. Yes, it hurts to see our seniors’ needs go unmet and we will do everything we can to ensure that staff members affected by this loss of funding are not left in the unemployment line when all is said and done. But to never attempt to perform these services because of the potential risk that funding will go away in subsequent years would be foolish. If our organization avoided funding that wasn’t promised for more than one year, we would have only a handful of funders and help a small fraction of the seniors we currently support.

I also believe that this may not be the end of this relationship. Our mandate to advocate for these seniors will force us to remain in conversation with FHLB and other funding entities until our seniors’ voices are heard. Because a relationship of trust and high performance has been established, future doors may open (and I am convinced that they will).

So for now I invite you on the roller coaster with me. Know that our staff and board leadership take these decisions very seriously and that many meetings and painstaking conversations took place before entering into this situation and will take place before entering into similar situations. But I am proud to tell you that we made a tremendous impact for the seniors we could serve and we will continue to fight for those who are still in need. I welcome your feedback and dialog about this roller coaster.

Yours in service,
Jeffrey M. Smythe
Executive Director

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Be safer, warmer, and dryer in 2010!

The motto of the SCS Home Owner Maintenance and Enhancement for Seniors (HOMES) program is to keep our clients “safer, warmer, and dryer.” Speaking of dryers, information by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there about 15,500 fires associated with clothes dryers annually, resulting in 10 deaths, 310 injuries and $84 million in property damage. While today’s dryers are designed to be safer, people are not checking their lint traps or vent systems as often as they should. Give your home its annual appliance check-up, and don’t forget air heaters, extension cords, fire extinguishers, fryers, etc., that also need maintenance. Have a safe and wonderful 2010 from your friends at SCS!

-- by Brad Catherman, Vice President for Gift Planning

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Now that the holidays are over, we all look to the New Year. People around the world make new resolutions, yet studies show that only a small percentage are successful in their resolve. However, by truly thinking about a resolution carefully, one can come up with some good ‘life improvements’ that are simple and easily obtainable.

Most people think of diets, exercise, quitting smoking as the staple resolutions. Yet there are many other simply resolutions that can be made… and kept! These simple resolutions can be anything from being on time to work or changing one’s attitude toward life or a certain person. Another simple one is to volunteer your time to do good. We all have a couple of hours every week or month that we could give to support others in need. It’s simple… you do good… and you complete your volunteerism with a warm heart.

So this year, instead of the same old resolution that never comes to fruition, try a more simple and doable resolution – resolve to get involved. Contact SCS’ volunteer department to delivering meals to homebound seniors, assist with home repairs, or many of the other volunteer opportunities that are available to you.

-- by Patrick O'Kane, Director of Operations