Late last year, Mary had lunch with her friend, Logan Vaughan, who gave her a fabulous reference that she thought would benefit the foundation. As a result, Bob & Mary met with Beth Concepcion, Assistant Provost and Director of the A_LAB at Oglethorpe University. She introduced us to a public relations class taught by Kate Keib to students who have a particular interest in non-profits. She agreed to use our foundation as a “case study” that five of her students would study.
Fast forward to the beginning of the semester in January. We were contacted by our five students: Connor Bollinger, Caleb Blakley, Julissa Canas Escobar, Manuel Portillo and Johnathan Feibus. They conducted a phone interview with Mary to get a general idea of what our foundation is all about. Each one of them had a specific topic: Partnerships & Supporters, Social Media, Internal & External Environments, Directors & Executives and Finances and Fund Raising. It was a fantastic interview, which was absolutely brimming full of youthful enthusiasm!
Early in March Bob, Mary & Brad met them for lunch at . YUM! Once again we were so impressed and pleased with their enthusiasm for the foundation. They asked a lot of questions, as we got to know each one of them in a more personal way.
They are working on two things as we speak. One is a press release whose subject will be the opening of Apartment #6. The other is a document whose subject will be our four new Board of Directors members. When we receive the final products, we can use them in any way we see fit, such as through social media or the press (i.e., TV or newspapers) or sharing with future investors. The possibilities are endless.
At the end of the semester, the group will present a final report on the foundation to their class and we will attend. Stay tuned!
At our BOD meeting on January, we had four potential new board members join us. They introduced themselves to us and all current members introduced themselves to the new people. The great news is that all of them have agreed to join the board. If you are curious about who they are, here goes:
Cynthia Elery – She is one of our former care givers! Her husband had a double lung transplant and they lived in Apartment #2 for at least two months. We became very good friends and she has become a great supporter, especially with her unique ability to raise funds.
Nik Erramilli – Nik is an attorney in his own firm. The process of getting him on board was a year-long project! He thoroughly vetted us. He was recommended to us by Peggy Barrett, another BOD member. She knew that he had a heart for non-profits.
Phil Graiser – Mary met Phil at at networking event and they connected immediately. Phil is an organ donor. And he is the President of Comforting Arms, an organization whose goal is to provide individuals and families with the compassion and support they need as family members age. In addition, his daughter is a transplant nurse at Piedmont.
Andy McMillan – Andy is a SVP at Gallagher & Founder of the EPIC Leadership Group. His expertise lies in the insurance business and the best way to describe Andy is “salesman extraordinaire!” His theory: “you don’t get if you don’t ask!” Music to our ears.
IN ADDITION: Before our meeting began, Britt Bentley arrived to give us the news that he and Mindy would be going “on leave” for a little while. He found out that he needs another heart transplant. So he will begin the evaluation process and, hopefully, will receive a new heart within a reasonable time. Our prayers will be with him. And when he is feeling well again, he and Mindy will be welcomed back with open arms! (Mindy has agreed to continue doing our accounting work during this time. Mary can’t say enough thank-yous!)
I am WAY far behind on reporting Apartment #5. We opened it on December 1, 2019 and we had a patient and her care giver move on on the 4th. This one is located at Belara Apartment Homes, where we have three more apartments.
Currently we have a baby patient and her mommy living here. The baby had a liver transplant and traveled a bit of a hard road in her recovery. But she is now “at home” in the apartment until she fully recovers. During the time she was in the hospital, her mommy never left her side, but her dad and siblings stayed in the apartment over the weekends. This makes us happy. Not only are we accommodating the patient and care giver, we are making life easier for the rest of the family. And that’s a good thing!
We have begun a fantastic relationship with someone who is going to play a very big part in our foundation going forward, particularly in the area of financial planning. He is a friend of Brad’s. His name is Jim Fountain. Jim works for the Business School at Emory University and his professional background is in real estate. Brad and Mary met twice with him to go over our business plan and to explain to him our vision going forward. Jim grasped the vision IMMEDIATELY! And he has jumped in with both feet. Our third meeting included Bob, who had developed a very preliminary cost-out plan for our stand-alone transplant house. Jim had studied our business plan and Bob’s report extensively and had thought about all of our verbal conversations.
We get very excited when we talk to him. And this is the reason: to find someone who truely “gets” where we want the foundation to go, is like discovering gold! He came to our last lunch with information about available apartment properties in Atlanta. So we fully discussed all of the possibilities for the stand-alone, including starting from the ground up or buying an existing structure and doing a major remodel.
This particular conversation ended with Jim saying he would do more research on existing structures (within 4 miles of the Emory and CHOA) and that he would set up a meeting between the four of us and at least two banks.
We are totally aware that we are just beginning the “baby-step” phase of our plans. But with Jim working with us, particularly with his extensive knowledge of real estate and finances and with his enthusiasm, we will, before we know it, be moving on to another phase. Like the picture at the front of this post shows, everything has to fit together like a giant puzzle…one piece at a time! We just set the first piece!
Life is exciting!