September 2015: Stitching a quilt of care

During last month’s We Are Family event, I had the honor of presenting FSM’s first Community Service Award to the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. The club’s illustrious leader, Michael Johnson, was on hand to graciously receive the award. Such moments are a lot of fun, and it’s gratifying to acknowledge those who do so much good in our community, but this moment is representative of something unique about Family Service Madison.

My predecessor, Dave Johnson, took special notice of the many non-profits contributing so mightily to the quality of life in Madison and Dane County and of how many of them were struggling to stay alive. He took the initiative to offer management consulting, financial services, office space, and combinations of those services to agencies in need. The fees for those services were based on what the agency could afford, because the point was to relieve some of the burden on their already straining budgets, and not on the current market rates.

Currently, Family Service Madison serves the following nonprofit organizations: Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center; Imagine A Child’s Capacity; Housing Initiatives, Inc.; The Road Home; Unidos; The Rainbow Project; Deaf Unity; and the South Madison Coalition of the Elderly. Like the Boys & Girls Club, those are agencies operating with values very much akin to ours at FSM.

Call it “family.” Call it “community.” Call it “collaboration.” No matter what we call it, the point is the same: We’re all in this together. And no matter what our individual agency focus may be, there is a common thread that runs through this quilt of caring: Good people doing hard work to make our little corner of the world a better place to live. Walk into any one of these agencies and you find the same warm hearts, strong minds and open arms. It’s both humbling and uplifting to be part of such a community.

My intent is to carry on and expand the service to our non-profit community that Dave began. It’s a good idea that has proven successful. It fits beautifully with FSM’s overall mission. And it’s the right thing to do.

On those days when I dare to dream big, I envision a nonprofit incubator, through which struggling service agencies can find financial relief and the strength of collaboration and shared resources. I can see us pulling together the patchwork, stitch by stitch, of a quilt of care that will keep us all just a little bit warmer in a world that’s sometimes a little too cold.