2014-2015 CRIS Annual Meeting Summary


May 2014 to May 2015 has been a difficult year for CRIS, one full of unexpected events and challenging transitions. Our first executive director, Bonnie Slocum, left CRIS last May for a wonderful full time opportunity prompting a time consuming search for a new director. We were fortunate to find and hire Liz Poda who assumed her duties as of July 1. Tragically, at the end of her fifth week with CRIS Liz suffered a heart attack and passed away. This required a second director search which continued through August, September, and into October culminating in the hiring of our current director, Betty Ann Liddell, who began her tenure with CRIS on October 20. How fortunate we have been to be able to find another experienced and energetic leader to take the reigns of our organization.

I want to thank the board for their assistance and support through these challenging transition periods. Board members took turns handling phone calls and e-mails, and they attended numerous extra meetings to attend to the details of interviewing final candidates and working out the terms of hire. Thank you to those who served with me on the interview teams, Mary Bartlett, Hume Laidman, Kathy Richmond, and Peter Barth. Your assistance in reviewing resumes and in interviewing candidates, as well as the insight you brought to the discussion of each candidate was invaluable.

This has also been a difficult year for several board members who themselves mourned the loss of loved ones. In spite of your own hardships you continued to be supportive and involved in CRIS matters, and we’re all very grateful for your continued commitment.

In times of uncertainty and transition organizations tend to hunker down and keep things as simple as possible. We lost the majority of this past year in being able to sustain momentum in moving forward with expansion plans for several activities and programs. These included educational presentations, social programs at senior housing sites, developing a marketing campaign for CRIS, fund raising events, conducting another health fair, and applying for grants. However, as Betty Ann completed an orientation
period and became more familiar with CRIS and its programs she has jumped into her administrative duties with enthusiasm and attention to the need to plan for the future. Two grants were applied for and one successfully received. She orchestrated the move
of the CRIS office from space within Caz Cares to our new home in the Cherry Valley Professional building, and completed all the re-organization entailed in such a move. She has met with numerous representatives of community organizations and has plans
to speak at several organizations’ meetings to introduce herself and talk about CRIS programs. She has been trained as a CRIS-CAT scheduler and is a volunteer driver. She has worked with Don Crossman to update and re-vamp the CRIS website, and
handled all the phone requests for assistance in locating needed community resources and services. She has worked to expand our programming which soon will include CRIS as a site for an Alzheimer caregivers support group, and will participate in the training required to assist with that group.

Two key programs which have continued during this transitional year are CRIS-CAT, our volunteer transportation program, and our Time Bank program. Under the coordination of CRIS volunteer Steve Burrell, CRIS-CAT has continued to provide rides to seniors
from Cazenovia, Nelson and Fenner, with the volume of rides continuing to increase each year. Six individuals now serve as dispatchers/schedulers of rides. Thank you to Steve, Dr. Robert Parke, Allisyn Roszel, Conkie Sessler, Julie Wheeler, and Betty Ann
Liddell for their service. A five year celebration of the program’s success is being planned, and a feedback survey of all participants in the program is planned for 2015. Our thanks to board member Jon Davidson for his work on the program’s software and his compilation of statistics which he reports to the board. Thank you as well to our volunteer drivers without whom the program couldn’t exist.

When Bonnie Slocum unexpectedly left, and especially after Liz Poda passed away, board members Mary Bartlett and Jon Davidson stepped forward to assume responsibility for, and coordination of, our Time Bank program. We are forever in their debt for their leadership. They have made possible the continued rollout of the program and growth in membership. Pot lucks have been conducted, the Time Bank Membership Handbook was printed and distributed, private meetings with new members have been held to help them sign up, and periodic communication about exchanges has been sent out. A new advisory committee has been formed and under the oversight of Betty Ann, and assistance from Mary and Jon, the program will continue to develop and grow. With the start-up grant from the Community Foundation now completed, membership has been opened to adults age 21 and above.

We recognize and thank several board members today who are completing their terms on the board. You will be deeply missed:

Mary Bartlett. Mary has served on our board since its inception, holding positions as Secretary, Executive Committee member, and Time Bank Coordinator. Her leadership, experience, insight, and organizational skills have been invaluable. Through out this
past year especially she has been a source of calm, strength, and wisdom. CRIS is where it is today in no small part because of her leadership.

Kathy Richmond. Kathy has also been on the board since its inception. Her skills in the field of graphic arts continue to amaze me. Kathy has been responsible for the layout design and printing of CRIS, CRIS-CAT, and Time Bank brochures, flyers, business cards, stationery, and annual board appeal brochures for which we are eternally grateful. Another voice of reason on the board, Kathy has served on committees for fund raising events, and this past year as a member of the interview teams.

Bill Brady. When CRIS was first formed we received our initial charity designation through CASA (Cazenovia Area Senior Association) and the use of their 501- C- 3 designation. Bill was instrumental in securing CASA’s support for us. Due to his wife’s
health and his role as caretaker Bill has been unable to attend our meetings. However, he has been a strong supporter of our mission and evolution, and served as a community advocate for CRIS. He has also at times assisted with CRIS-CAT scheduling.

Our thanks to Nancy Zeferjahn and Jon Davidson for agreeing to serve another term on the board.

Looking into the future CRIS has both challenges and opportunities. Challenges include enhancing community awareness of who we are and what we do, formulating a long term strategic plan, expanding our donor base, expanding our programming in health services and eduction, attracting new board members, and developing board leadership for the future.

Opportunities are many. The expansion of the Time Bank program to include those 21 years of age and older creates an opportunity to expand the volunteer base and offers of service. Minor changes to the exchange process could result in the merger of the previous Lend-A-Hand program with the Time Bank, thus expanding CRIS’ role as a service provider.

A comprehensive marketing program could address the issue of enhancing community awareness. With the new office space available providers of health services could be scheduled for clinics/seminars/support groups on a regular basis. A multi-session
educational program on Transitioning to Retirement is being discussed as an offering for the Fall. Fundraising events that would attract participants of all ages are being discussed and could help to enhance community awareness. An organized, targeted
development plan involving all board members could enhance relationships with current and prospective donors. And the list goes on and on. Exciting opportunities await!