Dear Bienvenidos Supporters:
When I last wrote in April, we had just endured a very challenging month, highlighted by the crash of our computer system and round the clock efforts to submit nine grant applications to DCFS. Two months later many of us are still sleep deprived–yet the heart of Bienvenidos continues to beat strongly as we near the end of another fiscal year of providing life changing programs to 20,000 children and their families.
That Bienvenidos programs are life changing, was affirmed for me at three recent graduation ceremonies I attended: Highland Park High School; the Institute for Women’s Health; and the Fatherhood Program. Knowing that none of the graduates’ accomplishments, nor those of other program participants, would have been possible without your guidance, support and love, I add my congratulations and thanks to each of you.
Other highlights from the past few months:
- Healthy Living Expo
- World Harvest Day at the Family Preservation offices in East Los Angeles
- Dia de los Niños event in Covina
- SPA7 Community Partnership Conference held at Torres High School
- Our new CalWorks contract, which enables Bienvenidos to expand services in the Antelope Valley
- Adoption license which we have worked so hard to secure, with the program ready to launch
- Outreach plan recently launched to promote integration of services
- And, by the way, yes we did meet our 25th Anniversary gala fundraising goal of $150,000 after expenses!
- There is potential good news on the horizon, though much uncertainty exists regarding our FY 2014 budget:
- While both our CSAP and CSAT SAMHSA grants end September 30, 2013, we are applying to renew them
- A Title X IT grant is pending, although we may experience a further decrease in our annual grant
- We knew about the major cuts to our Family Preservation program, and are facing the apparent termination of our Upfront Assessment contract. Nonetheless, with our SPA Coalition partners, we are aggressively advocating to restore at least some of the cuts
- The Medical division has experienced a significant deficit this year; primarily because we uniquely serve many very sick, indigent and uninsured patients. In addition to implementing cost-cutting measures, we have received several grants and used them to offset the operating losses; and have two additional grants pending
- We are waiting to hear about a $475k grant from Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
- Though clearly a long shot, we hope to receive the full Federally Qualified Health Care (FQHC) designation by the end of the summer
- Finally, we continue to be optimistic that the First 5 Best Start initiative will finally begin to fund services in 2014
Bienvenidos’ budget uncertainty is further complicated due to the difficult political and economic environment in which we operate. At the Center for Nonprofit Management Annual Conference last month, where I received the Nonprofit Leadership Impact Award on behalf of Bienvenidos, noted investigative journalist and author, Hedrick Smith discussed the “politics of hysteria.” He asked if we are “ready to put ourselves on the line?” He and the other lunch panelists discussed the socio-economic divide in our society, and how it is isn’t so much about ‘left’ and ‘right,’ as it is about ‘top’ and ‘bottom.’
At Bienvenidos, our vision of “a society in which every family can provide a loving, healthy and secure home where children can grow and thrive,” seems to be ever more difficult to imagine, in our increasingly polarized society, in which those who are the most vulnerable have the least political clout. After all, there are no ‘Super PACs’ raising money to help the poor.
What has most impressed me in my five+ years at Bienvenidos is the remarkable resilience of the families with whom we work, many whom have been identified and categorized in a 2011 research study as the “Forsaken Five Percent. ” This is the group of Californians left behind in impoverished neighborhoods, one being East Los Angeles, where access to health care and quality education is very limited, where personal median earnings are $18,000 and 40% of the children live in poverty. That these families continue their struggle to survive demonstrates their resilience and is why we cannot forsake them!
The nonprofit sector has more clout than we think, if we just work together–and why not? We share a common set of values around fairness and equity, a vision of social justice and economic equality and commitment to ensure equal opportunity for all. What we need is leadership that works collaboratively, that leads beyond the walls of our own organizations, and that is fierce in our resolve to change the conversation to one that is inclusive and places the welfare of people first. This is what keeps us all going on the tough days. I look forward to continue working with each of you in the coming year “healing children, strengthening families and transforming communities.”
Yours in service,