System could add another $10,000 if Forty Friends campaign generates same amount
By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The financial perils facing the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging eased a bit Thursday with the announcement that Valley Health System will contribute $5,000 to its coffers, the largest sum SAAA has received since it was overtaken by a financial crisis in September.
Mark H. Merrill, Valley Health's president and CEO, said his organization made the contribution in recognition of the need for SAAA to survive a crisis that has produced the dismissal of its top three executives, investigations into possible criminal wrongdoing, lawsuits and pay cuts for managers and staff.
The contribution came with a commitment by Valley Health to add an additional $10,000 to its contribution if SAAA can raise another $10,000 to its Forty Friends fundraising campaign.
Merrill said he and Valley Health's board of directors have been encouraged by steps SAAA has taken to regain its financial equilibrium in recent months, despite continuing cash flow troubles.
"We're giving them a shot in the arm and allowing them to continue the momentum they've been able to generate," Merrill said.
Board Chairman John Hudson said the contribution "will help tremendously" in the agency's efforts to reach a fund raising goal of $40,000 in its Forty Friends campaign.
The $5,000 contribution boosted the total amount raised in the campaign to $17,150, or 39 percent of the goal. "I can't tell you what this means to us," Hudson said.
Even as the agency celebrated Valley Health's support, Hudson disclosed in an interview that the agency has laid off three employees, two of them case managers, with another part-timer soon to follow.
The layoffs are the first at SAAA during the financial crisis, agency officials said. They follow the dismissals of former executive director Helen Cockrell, director of development Ann McIntyre and finance director Jim Shaffer.
The layoffs have left the agency with slightly more than 50 employees, a sharp decrease from a workforce of 72 in September. Agency officials said most of those who left did so to take jobs elsewhere or for other voluntary reasons.
In a related matter, the agency also announced the hiring of Cindy Vance as part-time finance director. Vance is a CPA and assistant professor of accounting at Shepherd University where she teaches undergraduate and graduate accounting and business courses.
Hudson said Vance has been working for two or three weeks. He said the agency was looking for someone with strong professional qualifications that could manage the agency's finances on a part-time basis.
In another matter, agency officials said they are making progress in cutting the waiting list for their Meals on Wheels program. They said 11 people have been added recently to Meals on Wheels delivery routes.
A news release accompanying the announcement of the Valley Health donation said more than 40 still remain on the waiting list for Meals on Wheels as well as 36 waiting for homemaker assistance and 18 on the personal care waiting list.