Streams of Consciousness

January 24, 2020

The Big Story: A whole bunch of smart people have said some variation of the following: “The way you spend your money is the true expression of your values.” That’s an instructive sentiment when it comes to budgets, funding, and human behavior in general. In the nonprofit world, we hear all the time that people love what we do and that we have their support. Those words are always nice to hear, but when you take a hard look at were state dollars go, it’s hard not to get a slightly different message. There’s another old saying that comes to mind, especially with the NYS budget just announced—“put your money where your mouth is.”

In other news…

As a society we’re making progress on normalizing mental health as a part of overall health, but there’s still more work to be done. We need to get to a place where mental health treatment is the same as physical health treatment—there’s no shame in going to the doctor for a broken leg, and there shouldn’t be shame in getting help for mental health treatment. We don’t judge someone harshly for limping, so why do we sometimes pause when we see someone struggling with their mental health? Read more:

Everyone deserves to know where they came from. A long-overdue law change means New Yorkers are now able to obtain their preadoptive birth certificates. Reversing an unjust law created in 1936 is a huge step for the dignity of adoptees. Read more:

Freedom of the press is a vital component of society, but being a member of the press comes with a heavy burden. Without credibility, a free press is worth less than nothing. Congratulations to Casey Seiler on ascending to the editorship of the Times Union, and a salute to outgoing editor Rex Smith on a job well done.

It was an honor for us to participate in Schenectady County’s celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Our past informs our future; both to us as an organization, and to all of us as a nation. Dr. King’s teachings stand the test of time—something to think about at a time in our history when it seems like talk is cheap and what someone says today is not only forgotten but contradicted tomorrow. Read more:

One of the biggest challenges in our sector is finding loving foster homes for youth in need of temporary care. We won’t sugarcoat it; being a foster parent is hard, and it takes a special person to do it. But there are many kinds of special people, and there seem to be some societal barriers that prevent some great people from opening their homes . . . and it’s not who you’d think. Read more:

We’ll see you next week!

 

JANUARY 17, 2020

The Big Story:

It’s budget season, which means that advocacy groups throughout the state are booking train tickets to Albany, making signs, and setting up displays to try and capture the attention of our government officials. With so many causes competing for attention, who ends up getting heard? And if you’re in our shoes, how much can you devote to advocacy when you’re already burning the midnight oil just to provide services? It’s unfortunate that doing good work isn’t enough on its own. Maybe if we developed some kind of poster.…

In other news…

We love a good tote bag or coffee mug as much as the next nonprofit, but those things aren’t free. There’s value in logo merch, but how do you measure that value? Smart donors are always asking nonprofits how they’re spending their money. How about if you write us a check, we’ll keep the t-shirt and just credit you extra for the donation. Read more:

Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for 15- to 19-year-olds in New York state. We want to scream this from the rooftops: Help is out there.  We just need to be able to connect services with people in need. These services cost money, but who’s putting a price on saving lives? Read more:

Everyone’s buzzing about the Major League Baseball sign-stealing controversy, where cutting-edge cameras were used to help players know what opposing teams were going to throw at them. Technology is revolutionizing every industry, including human services. From electronic health records to telemental health, we’re capitalizing on the efficiencies technology can create, but it’s not all wine and roses. Technology presents security and privacy risks, and we’re devoting resources to ensure our clients and our organization stay safe.

We all love a strong economy, but even great things can have downsides. All across New York state, companies are struggling to find and retain qualified workers. From Queensbury to Binghamton to Kingston, employers large and small are competing in an ever-shrinking labor pool. This is a bigger problem than any one employer, or even any one industry. Read more:

Recently we’ve raised a little money by selling off some old agency vehicles that were taken out of service. It’s a creative way to help our bottom line during a time of financial stress. Too bad we don’t have a big crane to sell.…Read more:

We’ll see you next week!
JANUARY 10, 2020

The Big Story:

Throughout our industry, providers were surprised and disheartened by theThe Big Story: Throughout our industry, providers were surprised and disheartened by the announcement that the state Health Department would be cutting Medicaid reimbursements by 1 percent across the board. While 1 percent doesn’t seem like a lot, a lot of Medicaidproviders (hospitals, senior care facilities, home health workers, and family services providers—you know, the people who help New York’s most at-risk residents) are already scrambling tomake ends meet. We’ve been saying for a long time that the nonprofit human services industrywas in trouble, and it increasingly feels like we’re headed for a reckoning. Stay tuned.

In other news…

It’s not all doom and gloom. The federal Family First Prevention Services Act, along withsome additional state funding, means desperately needed funding should soon be on the way tohelp place foster children with family members, and that agencies like ours will be able toprovide intensive support. Read more

Cheers to Lee Lounsbury, a former member of our Board of Directors, on being tabbed to headlocal nonprofit Community Caregivers. Under Lee’s direction, adults will be able to safelymaintain their independence, and caregivers will receive more support. Read more

The governor recently signed “design-build” legislation that’s poised to help New York City savea bundle of money on construction projects. We know a little about this topic, as we’re recentlywrapped the construction of a $10 million facility and are well under way on another large-scaleproject. We applaud any legislative step that helps efficiency. Read more

With the new year just underway, we wanted to take a moment to congratulate and thank all ourelected officials. To those just taking their first oath of office, we welcome you. To thosereturned to their positions by the electorate, we welcome you back. Here’s to a successful 2020!National Public Radio recently reported on the disparate resources available to children basedon racial divisions, using Albany as a backdrop. We believe that every child deserves every bitof support that every community can give, and one of our most important tasks is to helpconnect people to opportunities. Read more

We’ll see you next week!