Happy New Year! May you be safe and warm today.
First, I want to thank you all for the notes of encouragement and support. It’s not the amount of time you put in, it’s that you have been there. You are part of a nucleus that has become an organization, a public charity. Not just any group. It’s a creation. An innovation. A connection. A reinvention of neighborhood. Descriptors that have not even occurred to us. This year, in June, because of you, we became Hope Family Village Corporation.
I started to make a list. Just a list. Of all the 2017 activities, meetings, and events and it filled one page and a half legal pad pages! Then, I started to associate each of you with those occurrences. Honestly, it was stunning. Perhaps a simple categorization will help.
Founding family dinners
We dined monthly at Nick’s Spaghetti and Steak House in Gloucester. This is where we got to know each other. We discussed what amounted to our vision (April 2016) (a cohousing project for families and their loved ones with at least one Fairweather Lodge). (We will resume these gatherings in 2018.) Even while eating and talking, we evolved our name. We determined the need for a Planning Committee to address both the skillsets and tasks required to accomplish the development of a village and culture of acceptance, where neighbors help neighbors.
Hope Family Village Organization: Inc., 501(c)3, Planning Committee
In 2017, our Planning Committee started meeting monthly, wrote on white boards, created work assignments. Here, we determined our vision – Hope Family Village is a community-centric collaborative, offering acceptance, housing, and sustainable support for people with mental health conditions and their families. I remember that day: How remarkable it is to work with people who selflessly and respectfully engage with one another to create something. We commissioned Christine Andreoli to help us incorporate; seek 501(c)3 status, prepare By-Laws; guide us. We opened a bank account. We selected corporate officers; received our 501(c)3 status (October 2017); established a board (5 to start); held our first meeting; took actions to adopt By Laws; signed Conflict of Interest Documents; and appointed committees. We even received donations and have already prepared a draft yearend financial report.
College of William and Mary Connection
In late August of 2016, we arranged a meeting with a scholar in real estate at the Mason Business School to study our vision for a village (April 2016). That lead to a project with the Corporate Field Consultancy (CFC) Program and a relationship with the College. Not only did we receive final and comprehensive products from this study specific to a piece of property at Eastern State (March 2017), but we began acting on their organizational startup recommendations. We continue to meet more and more people from the business school, who have led us to other connections. By summer, we reached out to the Office of the President of W&M to advise them of this evolving relationship that would benefit the community. W&M alums have played a significant role in, for example, connecting us with film students, who made videos for us concerning Fairweather Lodge and a relationship with the Center of Entrepreneurship and new study concerning the Hope Family Village’s startup and business model due in March of 2018. All of this, with the idea, we wanted people to know something very special was being done. Hope was at hand.
Coalition of Community Living (CCL), Fairweather Lodge
In March of 2017, for the second time, the CCL board of directors held their semi-annual meeting in Wiliamsburg. They conducted a workshop, which W&M students filmed, to understand Fairweather Lodge. Subsequently, we started a “virtual” lodge that, since June, has been meeting at The Coffee House every Saturday at 8 AM. In October, two virtual residents, and their lodge coordinator, attended the 33rd Fairweather Lodge Conference (Erie, PA) Afterward, the members decided to start doing activities together. They took a field trip to examine a prospective house. They planned, shopped, cooked and held a dinner together, which began with a prayer. Each week they review their week, work on their goals, and plan for the next week. We had a total of 5 people participating in coffees. We currently have three active members. All obtained jobs and were working this past year. In November, we filed our first outcome report, for certification, with CCL. Each month the lodge coordinator participates in lodge coordinator conference calls with other lodge coordinators from around the country. Currently, we are looking for a house to rent. Their next activity is bowling. At our next HFV board meeting, we will recommend joining CCL as a member agency ($100 per year).
In 2017, we began reaching out to everyone locally who would have interest in our organization and its vision for mental health care. We introduced Hope Family Village to the Governor-elect, Ralph Northam, MD (followup communication with his campaign staff), Sen. Norment, Sen. Mason, Del. Pogge, Del. Mullin, Bryan Hill (the then County Executive JCC), Jack Haldeman (JCC Planning Commission member). All were receptive. Delegate Pogge helped us fashion a request to set aside 50 acres for the development of two community projects. We discussed this, in detail, with Sen. Norment, Co-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. After hearing of our request, Sen. Norment contacted Mike Tweedy, legislative aid to the committee (July). October 2nd, Tweedy contacted us to discuss the basis, scope of, and our requirements, essentially a longterm renewable lease at no capital cost to the state. November 24 – 5, several of us attended the Joint Subcommittee on Mental Health 21st Century to understand the state’s plans for the next couple of years and how we might dovetail. Our distinction, as a project, is we address the caregiver community, too. What we plan to accomplish is an amendment to the Governor’s budget which sets aside the property for Hope Family Village.
Healthcare Organizations: Riverside, Lackey, Colonial Behavioral Health
We know working with healthcare providers is critical to success. As caregiver citizens, our pitch has been, Give us an opportunity to demonstrate what we can do. Let us innovate on care. Create a new model that lessens the burden on the traditional system of mental healthcare and access it more efficiently, with measurable outcomes. To that end, this year we met with Lackey Free Clinic, Colonial Behavioral Health, and, most recently, Riverside Behavioral Health System to introduce Hope Family Village.
With Riverside, we prepared and delivered a 30-slide, power point presentation that discussed the basis of our organization and went through our progress and plans. That led to about a 45 minute discussion of possibilities for working together. We subsequently met with the Director of Riverside’s Government Affairs to describe our proposal and learn about the budgetary process and participation in it. We are very hopeful about our future relationship. We intend to repeat this process with other stakeholder prospects, inside and outside healthcare, in 2018, that bear on community-centric care development.
Network and Communications
Our momentum this year came from taking the initiative to reach out to the community. Show that we’re communicators. We’re collaborators. We gave public speeches which led to meetings. We met new people who led us to others. Gradually, the word has gotten around that we’re a serious group and we will not be denied. We’re here to elevate this community when it comes to care for mental health conditions. Aside from the above, in 2017, we met, spoke with, and/or have been working with the Kiwanis Club (Colonial Chapter), the Shriners. the Lions Club, the Mid-Pemisula Women’s Bar Association, the Rotary Club, Sona Bank, FirstAdvantage Credit Union, the United Way of Greater Williamsburg, the House of Mercy, Walk the Talk, Gateway Homes, Vanguard Landing, E3 Restoration, Austin Impact Capital, Williamsburg Health Foundation, Choose Home, St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, the Chapel, The Relevant Church, NAMI Hampton Roads, Newport News, NAMI Virginia Beach, NAMI Mid-Tidewater, and, where it all began for us, and was seeded, was NAMI Wiliamsburg’s Board of Directors. Thank you.
Finally, our donors. From the very beginning, my friend and fellow alum, Van Black (W&M, ’75) believed in us. The Griffin Family believed in us. From the time they both came to the first Fairweather Lodge community presentation in 2015. We are deeply appreciative of their faith in us.
Also, we thank the Andreoli Family and matching funds from Exelon Corporation, Joe Bell, Henry Loboda, NAMI Williamsburg, Barb Ramsey,Tom Rideout, Craig and Jill Sease, Jim and Lisa Thomas, and Deborah Worstell. More donations are still arriving.
Financial support goes a long way in starting something, but it is the questions, the ideas, the suggestions that ultimately move an idea from water cooler chatter to action.
I know we have a long way to go, but it really was an unbelievable year. There are so many to thank. What we promise is that we will remain flexible and open to possibilities that make our vision a reality. We must. We will operate lean. What that means is that our sponsors, donors, stakeholders can have confidence that we will be focused on managing our resources efficiently and directly into projects. Our first annual report will demonstrate our transparency.
As with NAMI Williamsburg, our board and planning committee members are all volunteers. I feel both honored and blessed to be serving with you.