Holiday Giving brought joy to families in need!

This post was contributed by Kira Zylstra, Solid Ground Stabilization Services Director, who participated in Solid Ground’s 2014 Holiday Giving campaign.

The holiday season is a time for joy and celebration, and for those in our community with the fewest resources, it can also bring added stress and hardship. Because of this, Solid Ground worked to support the families participating in our housing stabilization programs through the 2014 Holiday Giving Program.

We launched the program by asking for community support to provide gifts and financial contributions that could assist in providing each participating family with a gift package including household items, children’s toys, and gift cards for food.

With gifts and donations from local businesses – and individual gifts through Solid Ground’s website – we were able to raise nearly $12,000 to support 115 families who are currently experiencing homelessness or on the brink of losing their housing. This support lessened the burden for these families and allowed space for community and celebration at a time when even meeting basic needs can be a struggle.

GiftBag2014Some of our 2014 Holiday Giving Partners included:

AlyssaFrugeOne of our key supporters on this campaign was a young leader from Holy Names Academy, Alyssa Frugé. Alyssa volunteers with Solid Ground’s Resource Development team, and in addition to her ongoing data entry projects, she took on a new challenge to further support Solid Ground’s programs during the holiday season. Alyssa led a project to support the Holiday Giving program through her church, St. Benedict Parish, and was able to provide the greatest level of giving from any one donor in the program. The Parish and School provided these gifts as part of an even larger campaign which collected over 700 gifts for programs across the city of Seattle.

St. Benedict Parish and School alone provided 97 gifts, which single-handedly supported 30 local families who are currently homeless or at risk of losing their housing. Alyssa brought great enthusiasm and determination to this project of creating holiday baskets. When we first discussed the campaign and how many families we were hoping to support, she immediately wanted to set a goal of having each and every family supported.

Alyssa boldly set a goal of 100 gift tags for the Parish, which was already supporting a number of other community projects, and her commitment brought us to our goal. “It makes me grateful and simply happy to know my service has helped others, and I think volunteering is an excellent way to grow as an individual,” she says. “The holiday fundraiser helped me improve my speaking and marketing skills, and taught me the values of being an assertive and persuasive leader.”

The Holiday Giving program was a success in 2014 thanks to the effort and support of so many generous individuals and organizations.

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‘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.”

Solid Ground names new leadership team

Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO

Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO

Solid Ground is pleased to announce that Gordon McHenry, Jr. has been named President & Chief Executive Officer. McHenry most recently served as the Executive Director of the Rainier Scholars, a Seattle-based academic enrichment and leadership development agency. Rainier Scholars increases college graduation rates for low-income students of color by providing comprehensive support from 6th grade until college graduation.

Solid Ground also announces that Sandi Cutler has been named Chief Operations & Strategy Officer. Instrumental in the growth of Bastyr University and other agencies, Cutler brings significant strategic, operational and organizational development experience.

The hirings highlight a time of intentional introspection and change at the King County nonprofit, as the agency implements a new strategic plan calling for increased collaboration and coordination among its services.

“We are thrilled to bring this talented leadership team to Solid Ground,” stated Lauren McGowan, Solid Ground Board Chair. “We undertook a national search and in our own backyard found leadership whose careers and life stories embody the notion of creating opportunity for all to thrive,” she said.

“People in our communities continue to suffer from the prolonged economic downturn,” McGowan said. “As an agency, we are being called on to do more, often with less. Gordon and Sandi have the vision and skills to expand Solid Ground’s response to poor and oppressed people, as well as our advocacy to address root causes of social injustice.”

“Fundamentally, it’s about leadership,” McHenry said. “We envision Solid Ground being perceived as a key leader when it comes to addressing economic disparities.”

McHenry previously served in a variety of executive leadership roles in The Boeing Company, most recently as Director of Global Corporate Citizenship in the Northwest Region. A lifelong member of the Seattle community, McHenry has served on many local boards, including the Central Area Motivation Program (now called Centerstone), United Way and The Seattle Public Library. He currently serves on the boards of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Seattle University.

McHenry’s father was the first African-American engineer promoted into management at Boeing, as well as the first person in his family to graduate from college. His mother grew up and was educated in a segregated community in Texas. Their experiences gave their children deep respect for education and a strong belief in being active community leaders.

Cutler’s father led efforts to desegregate public schools in the Central Valley of California. His legacy bore fruit in Cutler’s early work as a political activist and management of progressive political campaigns and reform efforts.

“I am delighted to team up with Sandi Cutler. His activist roots and organizational development experience will help Solid Ground strengthen our community by giving more people the firm foundation they need to succeed,” McHenry said.

Ruth Massinga, Interim CEO since August 2011, will continue working with Solid Ground through the fall on several strategic initiatives.

“Ruth stepped out of retirement and guided us through a strategic refocusing. We are indebted to her for the gift of leadership,” McGowan said.

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