‘Rebuilding the plane while we fly it’

Boeing Dreamliner in flight

Boeing Dreamliner in flight (photo used by permission of The Boeing Company)

Solid Ground is pleased to announce that we have received a grant of $85,000 from The Boeing Company to support our Strategic Approach to Meeting Community Needs project.

“In an environment of increasing needs and diminishing resources, strategically-driven planning can significantly impact the amount and quality of services,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., President & CEO of Solid Ground. “This project will enable Solid Ground to more clearly focus resources against critical priorities and establish a framework for continuous assessment and reporting of our performance.”

The end result will be to better serve more people and have a greater impact on their lives.

“Boeing is committed to partnering with organizations that help individuals in our community struggling with poverty and unemployment,” said Gina Breukelman, community investor for Global Corporate Citizenship. “We have a long history of partnering with Solid Ground and are excited about investing in their work to improve internal systems so that they can efficiently and effectively respond to the increased need for their services.”

The Boeing grant builds upon other recent awards of $25,000 from Enterprise Community Partners and $50,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support aspects of Solid Ground’s strategic planning and program assessment processes.

“A lengthy cycle of growth followed by recent years of economic contraction created some challenges for Solid Ground,” said Sandi Cutler, Solid Ground’s Chief Operating & Strategy Officer, who will oversee the project. “Years of growth created a variety of programs, often with divergent procedures and systems. Solid Ground’s Board of Directors recognized the need to adapt our way of operating in order to meet the new demands facing the organization.”

“This strategic project amounts, in many ways, to rebuilding the plane while we fly it,” McHenry said. “And so, even while we take this strategic step, we continue to provide 60,000 people a year with housing, food and nutrition, counseling, legal aid and other resources to help them escape poverty and thrive.”

“Solid Ground’s effort is consistent with a larger regional effort that is transforming how nonprofits bring a renewed focus on effectively merging vision, leadership and planning into our work,” Cutler said. “The essence of this initiative is the integration of better systems, practices and methods, creating a ‘new normal’ that makes the entire organization more sustainable, and enables us to deliver better services.”

McHenry said, “We must become more effective and more efficient in order to improve the resources and support we provide to those who rely on our services, many of whom have  multiple challenges to self-sufficiency. We are grateful for this partnership with The Boeing Company to support this vital work.”

Farewell to Paul Haas

(Following are a slightly edited version of comments I made last night as we celebrated Paul Haas’ 26+ years at Fremont Public Association/Solid Ground.)

It is a sad time to see such an amazing person leave Solid Ground, but a great opportunity for us all to thank Paul, share some love, and maybe embarrass him a little bit, because for someone who has accomplished so much, he is really not a fan of the spotlight.

Well Paul, tough luck on that one tonight!

So we are here to celebrate Paul and his work with FPA/Solid Ground.

At events like this it is often good to have a theme, a metaphor to help give context to a person’s accomplishments. So I’ve been casting about for a fitting metaphor or image.

My first thought was Canonization!

Forgetting for the moment that Paul is Jewish, there is a lot to recommend the idea of seeing Paul as a Saint.

Like many Saints, he has committed his life’s work to solving the problems of the poor and afflicted. He has stood up to power.

He has worked miracles to get projects and programs funded – even raising programs from the dead after local governments tried to defund them. And he has inspired countless others through his words and deeds.

In fact, speaking on behalf of the Resource Development Department team, who have worked most closely with Paul, I can tell you that we all draw divine inspiration from his positive energy.

To us, Paul is certainly the Patron Saint of Relentless Positivity!

And in his absence, we will continue to motivate ourselves to overcome doubt about our work and reticence to stand up against injustice by asking ourselves: What Would Paul Do? Continue reading

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