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A Short History of Spring Valley Seniors Staying Put

Spring Valley Seniors Staying Put (SVSSP) began in January of 2014
when Margy Balwierz was watching an NBC evening news story
about a group called Staying Put that helped seniors to age in place.
She believed this to be a great idea with the coming of the “silver
tsunami,” the large numbers of baby boomers entering their senior
years. She wanted a group like this in her own community.
She gathered a handful of people in the community who were
interested in forming a Staying Put group in Spring Valley. Our
subsequent research and contact with county agencies led to the first
meeting of SVSSP in Spring 2014.

By fall of 2014, after much research, we decided that an all-volunteer
organization would best fit our clientele. We met with our mentor
Karen Krupa, director of Interfaith of Polk County, a successful
organization doing precisely what we want to do. She helped us
understand the work involved before we could start offering services
and she continues to mentor our group.

Jack Kenefick, a retired attorney living in our community, helped us
draft our bylaws and articles of incorporation, and file for nonprofit
status. Our 501(c)(3) was granted in February 2015.
In September 2015 we began offering services. We hired a volunteer
coordinator and acquired Assisted Rides computer software to handle
all the logistics of scheduling volunteers and clients.

In September of 2016 First Bank of Baldwin in Spring Valley offered
us office space with first year rent of $1, allowing SVSSP to establish
a main street presence.

Pay it Forward
We are so grateful to everyone who mentored us along the way. Our
goal is to “pay it forward “and to help those who may be starting their
own Staying Put groups. We have tried to cover the basics of what
we did and offer you our bylaws, volunteer handbook, budget, and
our pamphlets for you to use to cut and paste for your own needs.
Find interested people: To begin the process we needed to find
people interested in helping pursue our dream. This core group
became our first board.

We had 8-10 people who came to our meetings to brainstorm about
what services we would provide and developed our mission
statement. We were very enthusiastic and wanted to start providing
services immediately. Our mentor made us realize, however, that
before we could provide services we needed to build the structure of
what we were to become.

Financial support: We asked ourselves how would we support our
program- by charging member fees or fundraising? We decided we
wanted to offer services at no charge. If we were going to seek grants
and donations we needed to be a (501)(c)(3) organization.
501(c)(3), bylaws and articles of incorporation: We found a local
retired attorney who believed in our mission and was willing to write
the application for nonprofit status, our bylaws and articles of
incorporation pro bono. This was a huge gift that got us on our way.
Insurance: We had to consider liability workman’s compensation. We
spoke to our local insurance agent and bought insurance. All driving
volunteers had to prove they had car insurance.

Vetting volunteers and clients: How do we make sure that our
volunteers and clients our safe from potential predators? We had to
vet volunteers and clients so we did a circuit court background check
which is free.

Volunteer training: We wrote a volunteer manual and have regular
volunteer training sessions. The manual is given to all volunteers as
a guideline for appropriate conduct and interaction with clients.
Assisted Rides: We bought the Assisted Rides computer program
for which we pay $1500/year. This is how we organize our office,
keep track of services and schedule volunteers and clients. It
provides us with numbers and information important for grant writing,
reporting and self-evaluation. We had a “virtual office” when we
started but eventually it was too much to do out of our volunteer
coordinator’s home.

Volunteer Coordinator: It became clear very early that we could not
do all the supportive work without hiring an employee. Our Volunteer
Coordinator coordinates volunteers to client needs, handles general
office duties, holds open office hours, manages the computer
program, and vets and trains volunteers. She currently is paid $12/
hour for 26 hours a week and her salary is our biggest expense. In
2018 we decided to make her position salaried with the goal that she
would recruit and delegate volunteers to help with running the office.

Fundraising: We write 5-6 grants a year and the rest of our funding comes from
community support from individuals and local businesses. The United Way is on
our list of donors as are a number of local corporate foundations whose giving
goals match our mission.
Resources: At first we joined Village to Village Network, a national organization
that offers resources and information for people interested in starting their own
group. The cost for its services was more than we could afford so we did not
continue. We did learn, however, that there are many ways volunteer-run
organizations operate and this was very helpful.
The County ADRC (Aging and Disability Resource Center) was a huge help.
Wisconsin counties put together a comprehensive plan every three years that
can be very useful for gathering statistics and identifying need in your county.
Tech Soup :For nonprofits to get cheap computers and programs.