We had an excellent Leadership Council meeting yesterday!  Over 30 members attended and we had the chance to welcome some of our newest members, including Mary Jane Bacon of Senator Rosenberg’s office, Holyoke Community College President Bill Messner, Mary Johnson, executive director of the YWCA of Western Mass. and Cheryl Volpe of the Greenfield  Public Health Office.   We look forward to welcoming even more of our new members at our next meeting.

Special thanks to Father Stan Aksamit of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Turners Falls for excellent and generous hosting.  We are excited to continue our new practice of rotating meeting locations by county.  So with that, please note our meeting schedule for the upcoming year.

Wednesday, October 27 – Berkshire County – (all locations to be determined)
Thursday, January 27 – Hampden County
Wednesday, April 27 – Hampshire County
Thursday, July 29 – Franklin County

The minutes below are intended to capture major decisions and discussion points.  Thanks in advance to Erica Johnson of Pioneer Valley Planning Commission for providing detailed minutes in the future.

Have a great rest of summer and I look forward to seeing you soon.


Leadership Council Meeting Minutes – 7/22/10

In attendance: Father Stan Aksamit, Our Lady of Peace Parish; Mary Jane Bacon, Senator Stan Rosenberg’s office, Paul Bailey, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Andrew Baker, No on Question 2, Jane Banks, Center for Human Development;  Tim Brennan, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Sylvia DeHaas-Phillips, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Judge Robert Fields, Western Division Housing Court, Paul Fitzsimons, DCF, Peter Gagliardi, HAPHousing,  Joanne Glier, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Toni Hochstadt, Community Action, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Lori Ingraham, Easthampton Savings Bank, Mary Johnson, YWCA, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Tri-County CoC,  John Klenakis, UMass Donahue Institute, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Sharon Martin, PVPC, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Bill Messner, Holyoke Community College, Andrea Miller, Center for Human Development,  Dave Modzelewski, DMH, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Jerry Ray, Mental Health Association, Tom Salter, New England Farm Workers Council, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Suzanne Smith, Network, Liz Sullivan, formerly DMH/advocate, Cheryl Volpe, Greenfield Public Health office, Lynne Wallace, Dietz & Co. Architects.

Progress Report

Suzanne presented a progress report  summarizing our impact over the last quarter and thus far (Suzanne noted that the “to be determined” numbers are due to be ready by the beginning of August).  Click here to review the outcomes overall and click here to review the motel report.   In short, we are doing great work!  Our ICHH dollars on the family side are entirely spent and the outcomes are clear:  the Network prevented and diverted 333 families from homelessness, 153 more than our contracted obligation!  Our ICHH dollars on the individual side have housed 26 chronically homeless individuals and we are on track (subject to discussion below) for housing our contracted number of 38 by September 30.

The Council expressed appreciation for Suzanne and Andrea Miller’s work in presenting this important data.  Members and Suzanne look forward to further development of the data to be able to compare the number of families served with the number of families seeking service (e.g., the Network diverted  x number of families out of x number coming to the DHCD office), alongside other trend and demographic data. Very much a work in progress.

Members also agreed it was important to make the best use of the data to demonstrate the Network’s impact for fundraising and marketing purposes.

Suzanne also shared a new, exciting tool called “tableau public” that allows for interactive use of extensive data.  Suzanne and Andrea will keep us posted when it is available.  Click here to get a preview.

Review of ICHH Network Evaluation

The Council reviewed the results of the ICHH sponsored Network survey conducted in April, 2010.  Click here to read the summary.  The results were extremely positive overall and members all agreed on the identified  areas of weakness – consumer representation, data and resources.  The good news is that progress has been made where it can be:  we welcomed Carmelina Romano, a former consumer who is now a graduate student at UMass, to our Leadership Council.  And the laborious start-up of working with 3 HMIS systems in our region is now moving past the start-up into analysis.  The data provided at today’s meeting was a perfect example of that progress.  Several council members expressed that they would answer the survey differently today than they did 3 months ago in view of the progress that has been made.

The blog

The Council had a good discussion around the need to revisit the organization/lay-out of the blog in view of our Network’s development; that it would be useful to have committee meeting minutes and other materials organized by category instead of date.  Pamela will follow-up with members on next steps on this.

Video/DVD distribution

Paul Robbins assisted the Network in producing a DVD ready-made for cable television – 57 minutes long, including our video that was released at our 4/26 event, along with excerpts from the forum itself.  Members took assignments to distribute to cable tv stations and Pamela will follow-up with each member to provide appropriate contact information.  If you were unable to attend the meeting and you have a contact at your community’s local television station, contact Pamela.

Budget review/contract amendment

The Council had a lengthy conversation regarding the estimated $95,000 in unspent funds among the REACH providers (serving chronically homeless individuals).  Because the REACH grants were entirely allocated to staff for support services, these unspent funds stem from various staffing delays and transitions.  At the same time, due to various construction/renovation delays, some anticipated housing for the individuals will not be ready by 9/30/10.  After healthy and engaged debate, the council moved and unanimously approved the decision to seek approval from ICHH for a contract extension to allow for leasing apartments (until anticipated housing is ready) to meet the contract obligation of serving 38 chronically homeless individuals and use any remainder to serve chronically homeless individuals as the Steering Committee deems appropriate.  If ICHH does not approve an extension, the Council unanimously agreed to transfer the money to family providers to serve at-risk or homeless families.  The Council also agreed that the Network should inquire as to other unspent resources in other regions across the state and be at the ready to ensure they are used to serve homeless families or individuals.  The Council also empowered the Steering Committee to continue the decisionmaking process around these amendments through September 30, 2010.

Fiscal Agency post 9/30/10

The Council unanimously agreed to continue with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission as its fiscal agent following the termination of the ICHH grant.  Ensuring continuity in view of our small budget (at least to start) would allow for focus on the work instead of the administration and transition.  The Network thanked United Way of Pioneer Valley for their willingness to step forward in this capacity and is grateful for their continued support and participation.

Budget review for 10/1/10 – 9/30/11

The Council unanimously approved the draft budget for next year.  Click here to read it.  It is understood that the revenue numbers are subject to change as we get further along in our fundraising efforts.


Council reviewed and brainstormed funding prospects for next year and agreed that for time and administrative purposes, ideally fundraising efforts would zero in on a few larger and coordinated donors instead of multiple smaller ones.  One suggestion was to convene a meeting of the United Ways in the region.  Pamela will follow-up on that.  Another was to create a template application to banks and seek pro bono assistance from fundraisers in the area.  Follow-up will happen on that, too.  Liz Sullivan and Father Stan will discuss a foundation in Southwick.  John Klenakis of UMass suggested the Network could get on the Commonwealth’s list of organizations state employees donate to weekly.  John will provide Pamela with follow-up information.  Charlie Knight suggested a brochure to make the marketing/fundraising easier.

Campaign to Protect Affordable Housing

Andrew Baker, the Western Mass. Coordinator for the Campaign to Protect Affordable Housing, presented on this ballot question (Question 2) that would repeal Chapter 40B.  Click here for the one-pager on the issue.  The Network unanimously agreed (with John Klenakis’ abstention due to ongoing work related Chapter 40B) to endorse this campaign to defeat this question.  Pamela will discuss further with the community engagement and steering committees how best to communicate the Network’s position publicly.

Meeting dates for the year:

Wednesday, October 27 – Berkshire County
Thursday, January 27 – Hampden County
Wednesday, April 27 – Hampshire County
Thursday, July 29 – Franklin County

A challenge

Before adjourning, Charlie Knight posed the challenge of recruiting a consumer from each Continuum of Care (Springfield, Tri-County, Berkshires) prior to the next meeting.  The challenge was accepted!

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