Friday, May 16, 2008

Independence Update

It's been about six weeks since our last update on Hands On Gulf Coast's transition from program of Points of Light & Hands On Network, to a local nonprofit governed by the community.

In the intervening six weeks, somethings move quickly, some things move slowly.  What's new?
  • We agreed that becoming an independence nonprofit is the best way to meet both the needs of the community and the needs of the national office.  As part of this process we explored the option of partnering with Volunteer Gulf Coast.  Both organizations want to promote and encourage the Gulf Coast communities to become more deeply engaged in community building efforts through volunteer projects, however both organizations agree that the rapid move to independence required of Hands On Gulf Coast does not allow sufficient time to thoroughly explore the range of partnership opportunities.  Because partnership and not duplicating services is critical, Hands On Gulf Coast's Advisory Board agreed that Hands On Gulf Coast should move ahead with independence from the national office, then circle back with Volunteer Gulf Coast and the United Way to hammer out the details of a solid, community changing partnership.
  • Recruited board members like Bob Fell - just now retiring from the City of Biloxi and going into business building homes - and Lee Gentry - Clinic Administrator for Coastal Family Health Care.
  • We developed, voted on, and adopted by-laws and articles of incorporation.
  • Began the process of establishing accounts and credit in the name of the organization Hands On Gulf Coast
Of course there is quite a bit more to do, such as establish a payroll service, obtain insurance, get to fundraising, but we're working on them bit by bit.  We're also working with the national office to reconcile financial records so that Hands On Gulf Coast starts out on solid financial footing.

Through all of this, Hands On must work through the transition of a number of key staff.  Sara Hamilton, Associate Director, left at the beginning of May.   Today is my last day of work as the Director, though there will be many days behind the scenes helping out.  At the beginning of June, Sue Cole, Operations Assistant, and Erica Winslow, Mold Educator, both leave and will be sorely missed.

So not only is the organization's status transitioning, so too is the staff.  Though there will be bumpy times and challenges ahead, you will see new organization and structure emerge.  It will be stronger and better able to focus on what's most important - the meeting the critical needs of the Gulf Coast Community through volunteer work.

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