G.A.I.N. – powered by Lowe’s
As part of the inaugural G.A.I.N. cohort, Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte has completed their first phase in Apparo’s 2-year nonprofit accelerator: a technology assessment and plan.
As a result of this Community Impact Project, SCC leadership will have more time to develop and market their programs and to teach seniors how to engage with Zoom in order to access this programming. This means the widowed grandfather, who during this pandemic was quickly losing touch with his friends and risking negative impact on his mental health, now engages daily with a growing community of like-minded peers, enjoying SCC’s daily virtual programming and networking.
Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte (SCC) creates connections for seniors to reduce the negative impact of social isolation. By providing learning opportunities, social activities and critical support services, SCC strives to improve life in Charlotte.
As the first phase of their G.A.I.N. journey, SCC was matched to a corporate volunteer, David Gray, who conducted their tech assessment and provided a plan with recommendations for improvement. This project was facilitated by a volunteer Epic Change Agent, Dan Knezevic from FileSolve, a division of Patterson Pope. The G.A.I.N. program is generously sponsored by Lowe’s and EY.
After the project wrapped, we met with Holly Whitfield, Executive Director of SCC, to learn about the significance of their participation in the G.A.I.N. program and the anticipated impact of this project. “We just don’t have adequate technology and technology is at the heart of everything we do,” explains Holly.
Allisa Celek, Program Manager, describes a recent frustration caused by outdated technology. She shares that she was trying to get an 89 year old woman up and running on Zoom, so that the woman could enjoy SCC’s programming. While they were working together, Alissa’s laptop kept freezing and blinking, stopping her short of accomplishing her task and keeping this woman from moving forward.
“The new hardware and training delivered by Apparo through the G.A.I.N. program is going to make a big difference and the improvements we’ll make based on the recommendations from this technology plan will help us address our inefficiencies: how much time we waste searching for files and then waiting for them to open,” shares Holly.
New G.A.I.N. hardware and implementation of recommendations from this technology plan, reduce risk, decrease costs and help save SCC nearly 500 hours of time annually.
Holly explains, “Working with David got me comfortable with the idea of scanning our documents and moving them into the cloud. I’m excited about cleaning up files and those 15 filing cabinets that we won’t need anymore. We’ll be able to quickly find the information we need without searching and our Board will have easy access to the documents they need.” She adds that these efficiencies will help each of their three staff members save 2 hours a day.
Decreased expenses will be driven by use of VOIP phones and an improved copy machine plan.
This time will be put to use to drive revenue and enrich lives of seniors.
SCC will have more time to promote revenue generating programming and provide free Zoom training to seniors so that they can engage in the programming, which is all virtual now due to the pandemic. Fundraising will be improved because of freed time to focus and also easier access to accurate data. As Holly explains, “Improving our fundraising is very important because we know that this year will be even more challenging than 2020. Our goal is to sustain our revenue so that we are able to continue to provide our programs and services to seniors.”
With improved financial position, SCC can invest in new programming, like transportation and tax assistance, reaching more seniors, more holistically.
Words of appreciation were shared by participants in the team.
Holly Whitfield – “Working with Sarah and Apparo has been a remarkable experience. The ability of Sarah and our volunteer team to be able to flesh out the Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte’s needs will have immense impact on our effectiveness and the ability to serve seniors in the Mecklenburg area. When we applied for G.A.I.N., I was focused on the new hardware, but now I realize just how great this program is. We are getting a higher level perspective on our organization and planning for our future. Because of this support, we’ll be able to afford to address our technology issues without having to cut from our budget. I’m very pleased with the outcome.”
Dan Knezevic – “My time working on the SSC Community Impact Project was very fulfilling. I enjoyed meeting and getting to know the project team while working to support the Shepherd Center’s future technology-related goals.”