New foundation will raise funds for care center

To improve the long-term financial health of Vashon Community Care (VCC), a group of islanders has recently created a nonprofit foundation.

The idea behind the new Vashon Community Care Foundation is to build a strong financial base that will secure VCC’s future, said Truman O’Brien, who was the president of VCC’s board for five years and was instrumental in creating the new nonprofit. Members of the foundation will take over fundraising tasks previously performed by VCC employees, O’Brien said. And in a new model for raising funds, foundation board members will reach out to community members for monthly donations.

“We will ask people to pledge a minimum amount each month,” O’Brien said. “That will allow VCC to focus on providing five-star care.”

One of the financial challenges facing VCC is that part of its mission is to serve residents regardless of their ability to pay. This means that at any given time, Medicaid, which covers only 49 percent of the cost of assisted living and 70 percent of the cost of skilled nursing, might be paying for the care of a high number of residents. This deficit leads to a funding gap, O’Brien noted. That gap was just over $1 million last year and is expected to be roughly that amount this year as well.

In 2013, he said, the center was able to budget for most of that shortfall but turned to the community to raise the remaining $250,000. This year, he said, the community will be asked to contribute $300,000.

Linda Milovsoroff, the development director of VCC, now also serves as the executive director of the foundation. Such a foundation has been discussed for some time, she said, and she is pleased it has come to fruition.

“I am thrilled we are taking this big step and creating this for the future sustainability of VCC,” she said. “I think it will make a big difference.”

Most senior living centers are either for-profit or backed by a religious organization, Milovsoroff said. VCC, a community-owned, non-profit senior living facility, is an unusual find — with possibly only two such organizations in the state — and island support is vital.

“We need the community to step up and maintain it on a regular basis,” she said.

The foundation hopes to bring in $20,000 on a monthly basis, she added.

This amount will meet the operating funding gap, and larger donors will be asked to donate funds that will be earmarked for the operating reserve.

“This will give (large) donors a better sense of the long-term sustainability of their donations and that their money will not just be used for immediate needs,” she said.

Janelle Ansel, VCC’s administrator who also serves on the board of the foundation, said having a true foundation is a testimony to how successful VCC is at providing care. She said it also highlights how fortunate VCC is to be able to make up a large portion of the Medicaid funding gap. To a large extent, she said, VCC does so through the rehabilitation services it began offering in 2011, which bring in revenue and serve an island need.

Now, both Milovsoroff and O’Brien said, foundation members will reach out to the community and civic groups, inviting them to become sustaining members. But people do not need to pledge large amounts each month to be helpful, O’Brien noted.

“If we got every household on the island to donate $20 a month, that would do it,” he said.

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