Coxe Curry & Associates provides professional counsel to help greater Atlanta nonprofit organizations attract resources, accomplish their missions and serve our community.
Mary and Brad met with David Eidson, President and CEO on Friday, June 14th. We are, obviously, a much smaller non-profit organization than they work with, but due to a former colleague relationship with Brad, David was willing to spend time with us.
We asked for advice about many different aspects of the foundation going forward, from ways to fund raise (“coffee money campaign” to capital fund raising). About a salary for Mary as Executive Director. About how many Evans family members can be on the payroll (no more than one). To future Board member qualifications. And many more.
It was an extremely beneficial meeting. At some point in time in the future, we will be a client of Coxe Curry, and we look forward to that time.
Yesterday these two quilts were delivered to our front door. They are from the Mending Hearts Quilting Group in Washington State. What makes them really special is the fact that they were made in memory of our friend, Marge Mitchell. Marge passed away about a year ago, and one of her dying wishes was that her quilting group continue to make quilts for our transplant apartments. The group has fulfilled that promise over and over again.
We tend to give our apartments nicknames based on their decor. The next apartment we open will house these quilts and it will be called “The Quilt Cottage.” The group made another quilt which is in “Jeff’s Cabin.”
I have never made a quilt, and I never will. The whole process is just “beyond me!” But I can certainly appreciate all of the work that went into these. The blue one, in particular, was apparently a very complicated pattern and it was made by a local quilter, MaryCee, who then gave it to the Mending Hearts to finish and give to us. The pink quilt was made by Betty Walsh, a member of the group. And I cannot forget to thank Joan Huehnerhoff, who not only helps with the quilting, but is also the person who is really in charge of carrying out Marge’s wishes.
Thank you, again. My gratitude is endless. And Marge is happy!
Last week, we welcomed the 40th transplant family to our apartments. Who would ever have guess that we would be at this point already. It has been, and continues to be, such a privilege to be able to provide these apartments to our transplant patients and care givers. We love them all.
Do you remember this little guy? This is Trey, our little patient that passed away before he got a liver transplant. On Sunday, April 28th, Mary and her sister-in-law, Karen attended a “Celebration of Life” at Egleston Hospital which was held in loving memory of all the children who passed away in the Pediatric ICU in 2018. Mary and Karen joined Trey’s family (mom, dad, grandma, and three sisters) to celebrate Trey’s life. It was a very touching time when the lives of 40 children were celebrated.
“Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place,
The whole of the flower,
The whole of the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower,
The truth of the blossom
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.”
(from the Celebration program)
Trey captured my heart from the moment I met him. The smile on his face was always there and I’m convinced that, even as he is now in heaven, that smile is eternally glowing. Trey, you are loved, sweet boy, and you will NEVER be forgotten.
Near the end of April, we had to evict a family from one of the apartments. They had misrepresented themselves to everyone involved. Unfortunately, they were really enjoying living there and they did not want to move out. So we had to exert a little pressure to get them to start packing. It was a L-O-N-G day, ending around 11:00 p.m. with the last of their possessions being taken away.
We are considering this a learning experience. One thing we learned about is the legal process of evicting someone. YES….if they refuse to leave, there is a process that takes 30 days and involves local government.
On top of everything else, they trashed the apartment. We were told by someone who knows (Liz, out Foundation Consultant and former Executive Director of the Seattle Transplant House) that this would inevitably happen, so we were not taken totally by surprise. After many trips to the dumpster and four days of cleaning, we were back in business.
And the good news is that we have another family in the apartment. When the caregiver, the patient’s sister, arrived at the apartment to get the keys, she had the wonderful news that a liver had just become available and her sister was scheduled for the transplant at 4:00 a.m. the following morning. That’s the kind of news we love to hear. And good news ALWAYS trumps bad news!
Last week we got Apartment #3 moved from Post to Belara. The movers came on Wednesday. Bob and Mary unpacked and set up on Wednesday. Mary & Brad finished the set up on Thursday. Then they went down on Friday afternoon to hang all of the pictures, etc. and install the washer & dryer. And a new care giver moved in on Saturday. He is a gentleman, probably late 50’s, whose wife got a liver transplant last week. When he arrived at the apartment on Saturday, he had been sleeping in a chair in the hospital for eight nights. He was flat worn out! So I encouraged him to sleep at the apartment that night and he assured me he would.
The only hickups in this move were two evenings of WAITING. Thursday it was for Comcast, who arrived around 9:00 p.m. and the technician was there until after 10:00 p.m. Friday it was waiting for two recliners to be delivered, which happened around 8:00 p.m. Brad got them unpacked and put together. And then we headed home. DONE!
We had originally planned on doing the move on Saturday, but we got an email from one of the social workers at Piedmont asking if we had an available apartment “at the end of the week.” So we moved everything up a few days to ensure we had a resident right away. So all of the apartments are occupied now.
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!