FUSION in Review - President's Annual Report 2013 February 2013 FUSION Review
 
Dear Friends of FUSION,
 
It is hard to believe that a year has passed since I last wrote to you about FUSION. As I have done in the past, I would like to share my thoughts looking back at 2012 and into the future.
 
I continue to be amazed by the organization we all support and care for, especially the dedication of so many people who ensure FUSION operates in a high-quality fashion. I know of no other agency that can boast such a level of support.
 
Our credibility continues to grow. I hear this often and it has been confirmed by the fact that we were invited to submit grants on several occasions over the past year or so. That credibility is a vitally important FUSION asset and has been built, over time, by all of you.
 
As I said last year, I personally gain by participating in FUSION. That has remained the case in 2012 and will, I know, continue into 2013. This is important to me because whatever contribution I make is enjoyable and rewarding.
 
Before I share additional thoughts, I want you to know that I am now battling cancer having had surgery in late December to remove a tumor. The operation was successful but further test results indicate that the cancer has spread to various critical parts of my body. So, I need additional treatment and will be undergoing chemo therapy for at least the next six months. I will probably miss some FUSION activity but I promise to keep that to a minimum as best as I can. My family and I are praying for a positive outcome.
 
I like to begin my report to you with client progress, and we did have another excellent year. Our families had successful outcomes with 86 percent moving to permanent housing and self-sufficiency. I thought you might be interested in what kind of information the FUSION Board of Directors receives monthly from our case manager. We are updated on every family in each of these categories: Entrance and exit dates; employment and education status; housing search status; financial management; childcare and schooling; medical/mental health and counseling; care of property; needs of the family; and goals attained. To protect privacy, personal information is not communicated and the data is seen only by Board members
 
An important development occurred this past year when a new countywide call-in system was implemented to assist the homeless. They now have one number to call for help rather than having to contact each individual housing organization. There were some start-up issues, which meant we experienced longer than normal times to fill units that became vacant. However, those problems have been remedied and we are now filling units in a expeditious fashion.
 
The new system — called The Family Housing Connection — will allow all of us who provide shelter housing to better understand the numbers and reasons for homelessness in King County and how well we are collectively meeting that need because data is being gathered in one central location. Unfortunately, people in need still experience long delays in receiving help (up to 6 months in some cases) because the overall inventory of available housing has not changed. So the need continues to be severe.
 
Catholic Community Services (CCS) continues to do an excellent job as our case management provider. They are responsive to our ideas and very honest with us about what they can share and where they see issues that we can work on together. I could not be more pleased with their work. We have extended our contract with CCS through 2013.
 
We did decide to grow in 2012 and applied for a Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) through the city of Federal Way and were awarded $175,000. We expect the funds by the middle of the year and plan to purchase an additional housing unit.

We will be buying a house rather than a condo for two reasons. There is a need for larger shelters with three to four bedrooms, so we said we would like to help fill that gap. Also, the recent housing slump and lagging economy has left condo Homeowner Associations (HOAs) in difficult financial positions in terms of growing their reserve funds to cover repairs and maintenance. With many delinquencies and foreclosures, it is becoming harder for these HOAs to maintain funds or save for future needs. Since we have 11 condos already, with HOAs that potentially would need to assess owners for costly repairs/maintenance, we have decided not to add to our burden.

And we will be working on strategies to reduce our exposure to potential condo assessments. One way to do that is to segregate our reserves into three categories — operating, replacement/maintenance, and cash flow needs — to balance inflow and outflow of funds during the year. We would reserve an amount in replacement/maintenance for potential assessments and dues increases. That work is currently being done and soon will be presented to the Board. We will then better understand how much of our reserve can comfortably be used for other related FUSION work.
 
In my last message to you, I talked about two initiatives that were important to FUSION. One was the establishment of an endowment fund. That has been completed, and over the past two months we have collected $3,675 in donations. We have an endowment committee that will begin in earnest this year to plan education and growth strategies.
 
The second initiative was starting up a boutique. A substantial amount of work has been done developing a business plan, and we are close to making a decision on a location, leasing arrangements, start up costs and longer-term economics for the venture. You should be hearing soon about what FUSION has decided to do.

I am excited about both these initiatives and what they can mean to FUSION in the long term, especially as sources of funds to support operational expenses for our current units and future growth.
 
One last point. This year the Board agreed to an organizational assessment to determine our if our mode of operation is sufficient as we move forward and continue to grow our capacity and capability. This assessment will include looking at staffing, our back-up plans for key positions on the Board and throughout the volunteer base, and our operation and service delivery models. We will be looking to hire an external consultant to help us with this work which hopefully will put in place an organizational plan that will sustain FUSION for the foreseeable future. The nonprofit organization Building Changes is willing to fund this effort. CCS will be helping us to select the right consultant who has knowledge of the housing environment and trends, as well as organizational planning skills.
 
Wow, that is a lot on our plate for 2013! It would trouble me except for the fact that we have such an exceptional Board of Directors and capable volunteers. All that we want to do is very critical for FUSION preparing itself for the next decade or two. We need to and will preserve the legacy, credibility and success that FUSION has earned over its 20-year history.
 
Thank you for all that you do for those in need of our care and support. However you help is greatly appreciated. And please let me know if you have any comments or questions. I would love to hear from you.
 
Warm regards,
Bob Wroblewski
FUSION Board President




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FUSION
PO Box 23934
Federal Way, Washington 98093-094
US

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