Page 6 - BusinessWest/Healthcare News 2021 Giving Guide
P. 6

Continued from page 38
demand, Herbert added, “and, thanks to grants and donations, we’re now over 80% of the way toward that goal, toward securing our future. So many people have volunteered, made financial contributions, and donated to and shopped at our Thrift Shop. They’ve even organized their own fundraisers. But we need to keep going. If we don’t reach our goal, we won’t be able to survive 2020 intact, putting hundreds of local people who depend on our comforting and strengthening supports at risk of losing them.”
Delivering the Goods
The Mental Health Assoc. (MHA) had to shift its service-delivery model this year as well. “We
immediately went to telehealth, and that’s been really positive,” President and CEO Cheryl Fasa- no said. “I’m sure that, after this [pandemic] is
done, people will continue use that; it’s improved our no-show rates.”
Kimberley Lee, vice president of Resource Development and Branding, added that COVID- 19 forced nonprofits to think creatively in order to deliver services remotely that typically rely on proximity and close connection.
“Rather than saying, ‘oh, well, too bad, we can’t continue to run this program,’ we got together as a team and provided the programming virtually,” she said. “I think that speaks to MHA’s ability to really think innovatively about our programs and how, despite COVID, we can continue to provide our services in ways that are meaningful for our program participants.”
Those services are, in many ways, more impor- tant than ever when people are stuck in their houses and struggling with the effects of isolation and anxiety, Fasano said. So it’s important that they continue — but staffing, supplies, and other resources cost money, and it’s harder these days to find it. “A lot of people don’t have jobs, so it’s a tougher thing.”
Lee said the current climate requires a new level of sensitivity in terms of fundraising. “It’s difficult to ask an organization or a smaller or mid-sized business to make a donation or think philanthropically when they themselves are trying to figure out how to keep the lights on. We’ve tried to look differently at how to engage
Continued on page 41
Continued from page 39
ilies to carry on, so there would be consistency between school and home. It was a team effort — the therapist, the teacher, the child, and the family.”
With these various pro- grams in place and insti- tutionalized, as she put it, and with the organization on solid financial ground — something that took several years to accom- plish after those twin disasters nearly a decade ago — Kagan said she con- sidered all or most of the specific goals she had set to be met or well on their way to being met.
So, a few years ago,
a process of succession
at Square One moved to
a different phrase, and earlier this year, Kagan formally announced she would step down as presi- dent and CEO at the end of December.
 now has 35 to 40 social workers and case workers on staff
as a result of diversifying its funding and securing support from the Department of Public Health, the Children’s Trust, and other sources.
Another big step forward in efforts to support both children and families and expand that holis- tic approach involved addressing children’s physi- cal needs, said Kagan.
“If children aren’t well, they are not going to be able to learn,” she told BusinessWest, adding that the agency soon partnered with farms and other providers to create a farm-to-preschool program that has since grown significantly in size and scale and is administered by Partners for a Healthy Community.
Likewise, Square One initiated a children’s
“I know I’ll want to be doing something, particularly for young children and families. It’s a passion of mine that doesn’t go away. Hopefully I’ll find something where I can be involved and helpful to the community.”
exercise initiative — it acquired the GoFIT pro- gram and expanded it to toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children — that is now known as SPARK and blends exercise with nutrition.
“We want to get children off to a good start and stress the need to treat their bodies well and have respect for their bodies,” she said, adding that still another initiative, one very high on her bucket list, has been the introduction of mental-health services.
Elaborating, she said the agency launched
a trauma-informed resource center called Cor- nerstone, staffed by a licensed mental-health clinician who works with children, families, and teachers at Square One’s King Street location.
“Because a vast majority of children come
to us with some form of trauma, we needed to ensure that we were addressing that, and help- ing the teachers,” she explained. “We wanted to ensure that the teachers got the guidance and support that they needed, while also helping fam-
Joan Kagan, seen here with students at Square One before the pandemic, says that, during her tenure, the agency succeeded in broadening its mission well beyond early-childhood education.
      She said the agency
is in good hands — the bulk of the team she has assembled has been there for several years — and that it’s time to pass the torch to someone else, as it was passed to her in 2003.
Pandemic and Passion
While making that exchange, though, she has had to lead the organization through still more whitewater in the form of the pandemic, another stern test, to be sure, when it comes to everything from raising money to carrying out the mission and keeping everyone safe in the process.
“In this pandemic, there are no easy solutions; there are no good solutions,” she said. “You just gave to do the best that you can and be flexible.”
That’s the advice she gives to all nonprofit managers today, who are facing a perfect storm of issues when it comes to fundraising, everything from an inability to stage the live events that have been so successful over the years to the sagging fortunes of business owners who are relied upon to support these agencies, to falling revenues for the state.
“It’s all about flexibility and pivoting,” she said simply. “Whether it’s a tornado or you lose a major contract ... or a pandemic, you’ve got to
pivot and show that can-do, solution-oriented, we’ll-get-through-this attitude.”
Elaborating, she said that, to successfully navigate this pandemic, nonprofits also need money, creativity, and, above all, a plan for mov- ing forward.
As for her plan moving forward ... Kagan said she doesn’t actually have one. Yet.
There will be considerable time spent with grandchildren — she now has four — and some spent on the golf course as well. Beyond that? She doesn’t know how all the rest of the hours will be filled, but she is sure of one thing.
“I know I’ll want to be doing something, par- ticularly for young children and families,” she told BusinessWest. “It’s a passion of mine that doesn’t go away. Hopefully I’ll find something where I can be involved and helpful to the community.”
She probably won’t have to search hard or long. She has spent a career leading efforts to effectively serve families and children, and she certainly isn’t retiring from her work giving back to the community. u
George O’Brien can be reached at
  40 DECEMBER 2020
File Photo

   4   5   6   7   8