What is your organization’s most important commodity or service?
Ballard provides high-quality, affordable early education and essential basic life assistance for individuals and families in need.
What is your organization’s most important priority?
Our priority is to serve the most vulnerable population in Douglas County by preparing at-risk children for kindergarten in a safe and loving environment, and by supporting families in crisis and helping them move to self-sufficiency.
What has been some of the most important aspects of your success?
Our success is completely attributable to the dedicated employees of Ballard and the generous support of the Lawrence community.
How many people does Ballard employ, serve, interact with on a daily basis, and are responsible to?
We currently have 18 employees. We serve approximately 53 students in our early education program, but we serve well over 100 clients a day in our Human Services program at Penn House. These programs include our Food Pantry, Clothing Pantry, My Sisters Closet/Suitable for Work, Rent and Utility Assistance, Back-to-School Back-Packs and Holiday Bureau.
How do you and your organization make a positive impact on the Lawrence community?
We provide high-quality, affordable early education to a segment of the population that cannot access such services from the school district and cannot afford the going rate for such programs. It is well documented that helping these young students at an early age will help them be successful in grade school and the rest of their life.
What do you see as your personal responsibility and your organization’s responsibility to the community?
As a member of the board, it is my responsibility to give general oversight to the operations of Ballard and help set the strategic mission of the organization.
Why did you become involved?
I became involved with the Ballard Center 14 years ago simply because a friend asked me to be on the board. However, I have stayed on the board for the last 14 years because of the tremendous difference Ballard makes in the lives of our clients and in our community.
As a board member, what do you do? What are your responsibilities and your obligations?
The primary purpose of a board is for checks and balances. Because non-profits exist to meet the needs of the community, a non-profit board’s job is to ensure the community’s needs are being met and the donations the organization receives are used wisely. Thus, it is not the job of a board to manage the daily activities of the non-profit, but it is its job to ensure that the organization is run properly and consistent with the organization’s mission. A basis for this rule lies in the public’s trust that the organization will manage donated funds to fulfill the organization’s mission. Of course, board members also serve as an ambassador in the community to communicate the mission and story of the organization. In addition, board members must also engage in development efforts to augment the organization’s resources to enhance its impact.
Board members must also fulfill their responsibilities while satisfying three duties imposed upon them: the duty of care, the duty of loyalty and the duty of obedience. The duty of care means that a board member owes the duty to exercise reasonable care when he or she makes a decision as a steward of the organization. The duty of loyalty means that a board member can never use information obtained as a member for personal gain, but must act in the best interests of the organization. The duty of obedience requires board members to be faithful to the organization’s mission; that is, they are not permitted to act in a way that is inconsistent with the central goals of the organization.
What is the biggest challenge you feel your organization faces?
As with all non-profits, the biggest challenge is to find and retain sufficient financial resources to allow the organization to continue to fulfill its mission. That is, the need is so great there is a continuous balancing of expanding the mission to serve the needs of the community with the financial recourses to do so effectively.
What do you foresee as being the biggest opportunity for the future for Ballard? And how are you addressing or preparing for it?
We intend to expand our strengths-based case management services that have been so successful in helping our clients help themselves. By expanding those services and helping more clients become self-sufficient, we hope that one day we can actually meet the needs of everyone who asks for our help.
Do you have any important upcoming events?
Our Ballard Center building in North Lawrence will turn 100 years old next year, and we plan to commemorate that anniversary with a large mural painted by the youth of Van Go Mobile Arts, celebrating the history of the Lincoln School, of Ballard and of the entire Lawrence community. At the same time, we hope the Community will support us with the resources necessary to maintain the building at a level that it will continue to serve Lawrence for another 100 years. ■