NEOCH 12 Years Ago
I had the honor to help the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless work through issues at their annual retreat. It was amazing how familiar the problems and issues faced by the Columbus Coalition are so very similar to the obstacles NEOCH faced about a dozen years ago. The Columbus Coalition has a few part time staff and they cannot find their footing in the community. They have board members who must focus on their own agency's survival or their own personal issues of stability and they cannot focus on getting the Coalition on its feet. They have a dominant coordinating body in the city, which makes it hard to raise money or step out from this larger organization's shadow.
NEOCH had all these issues a dozen years ago, after our first five years of funding ran out. We had a period of five years with staff and some programming that the Columbus Coalition never had, but we were facing huge decisions as they are down I-71. We found out that the community would not pay for advocacy. We found out that the service providers, who started our organization, could not afford to pay for our service in the long term. We found that the County entity (that we helped to start in order to coordinate services) confused funders as to what our role was in the community. We also had a divided board as to our basic role within the community and the importance of some of our programs. We figured it out and made some tough decisions to survive.
I hope that the Columbus Coalition will pull together to make some tough decisions. They can move to a full time staff person by putting in place solid programs desired by the community. They seem to have all the ingredients, but they need a strong chef to put it all together.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.