Crestone Peak Community Housing (CPCH) and
Living Wisdom Village, Elders creating Community - on we go!
Changing from a local interest committee to operating a non-profit is a big deal. Serving on a non-profit board is definitely a step up from how we operated in the early years of this project. We have many responsibilities in order to remain compliant with our non-profit charter and tax-exempt status. It is vital that we can show consistent accountability in order to access state and foundation money to pay for this project. These organizations look for sound financial leadership, professionalism, commitment and motivation from non-profit boards.
Richard Sanderson, our Treasurer, and I attended a training for Non-Profit Leadership in La Junta in July hosted by Community Resource Center (CRC). It was a very full day with about 15 other people, who happened to all be women. Many of these attendees were on big boards with up to 30 members which led to lively discussions and sharing of the challenges of governing a non-profit. We left the training with tools to share with our other board members and will be working through the exercises during work sessions and strategic planning.
CRC is a great resource dedicated solely to helping non-profits succeed. They occasionally come to the San Luis Valley to hold classes; other trainings are conducted throughout the state. Rural Philanthropy Days is another project of CRC, bringing multiple Front Range foundation representatives together in one location to assist local non-profits to attain grants for their projects.
CPCH has attained Enterprise Zone status for extra tax benefits to donors. The Living Wisdom Village, Elders Creating Community project has moved far beyond the initial vision, getting closer to realization of Living Wisdom Village. We are committed to developing sustainably constructed, cost-effective homes, built with non-toxic materials and run with renewable energy; they also have to be attractive! (If it is not beautiful, I am not interested). Due to our non-profit status we are not able to build a co-housing project with investors as initially planned. Our current project is to build affordable housing for seniors 55 and older, a critical need in our area. Our board is already discussing our next project, which will be affordable housing with no age restrictions.
Board meetings, outreach within the community, and attending other related meetings takes commitment and a lot of time. I respect everybody working for the common good and giving their time and energy in an organized group in our community. As we know, many of the improvements that are made in rural communities are the result of local interest groups and non-profits. For this I highly recommend running your non-profit with as much knowledge and training as possible, especially if you are relying on large grants to accomplish your goals.
By: Kirsten Schreiber, Chair