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Grants keep Association current with technology

June 27, 2014 | By Peter Spotts

SPRINGFIELD – A local nonprofit organization has been granted increased resources to help them continue their mission of supporting adults, children, and families coping with developmental disabilities.
The Association For Community Living (TAFCL) received $51,000 in grants from three local sources, which will help them keep current in a technology driven world.
“We are developing electronic care records that will capture information and data and interface with some state systems. [It’s called] iCentrix [and] about 12 groups in state use it,” Executive Director Barbara Pilarcik said. “It will transmit information broadly across [TAFCL] and see if we are showing improvement from year to year.
“Most of the money will be going to iCentrix, [since] there’s an upfront purchase cost and [then] implement it, [and] developing a leadership institute. We put key leaders through a [performance] review and based off that we’re developing a series of training that key leaders will participate in to develop them,” Pilarcik continued.
“iCentrix will help us because in order to improve, and continue to meet the changing needs of the people we support, we need to be able to measure what we have done, compare that to standards of excellence and work to make sure that we meet or exceed those standards. We need to know where we've been, have a clear vision of what we need to do for people and then measure how well we did at implementing that vision so that the lives of people we serve are improving,” Pilarcik explained.
When asked how devloping the leadership insittue will effect those being supported by TAFCL, Pilarcik replied,?“While every employee has a very important role to play in serving our clients, we know that effective leaders are able to articulate a clear vision, set attainable goals and motivate others to achieve that vision. Developing good leaders will ensure that our services and the people who depend upon us will continue at the same high level-or better-of quality that they expect.”
The Beveridge Family Foundation Inc. provided $40,000, Westfield Bank contributed $10,000 and Greenfield Savings Bank provided $1,000.
“[The Association] is one of many organizations that applied to the foundation for funding. They did an excellent job on their application,” Beveridge President Caswell said. “The work they’re performing is good work.
“The people they work with are the sweetest people you’ll ever meet … [and are getting] types of treatment you want to see everybody receive,” Caswell continued.
TAFCL provides a wide variety of services to support individuals with disabilities, family and employment support, which include classes, information sessions, counseling, and support groups.
“We are a nonprofit, human service agency. We serve 1,116 individuals and 760 families.  About 250 are served residentially, the rest are on support,” Pilarcik explained. “We have three goals [going forward]: to be responsive to the changing needs of the individuals we serve, to be responsive to the changing needs of the healthcare system and human services, and [develop] a formal leadership institute.”
Pilarcik is part of TAFCL leadership that was an important component during the application review process conducted by Beveridge.
“One of the most important [qualities] is the energy and vision of the leadership,” Caswell explained. “Do they have a clear and communicable vision? Are they able to articulate it? Execute it with staff and other resources? And is that vision aligned with the Foundation’s.”
Westfield Bank’s Assistant Vice President of Marketing Catherine Jocelyn is pleased that their relationship with The Association is continuing.
“We have been working with the Association for many years and find it an organization that meets the criteria for our Future Fund Grant Program. We have donated funds again for several years and each year each request is evaluated and based on our internal contribution budget and their request we make a determination what dollar amount best fits both,” Jocelyn said. “We look forward to supporting the Association for Community Living moving forward and look forward to seeing all the good they do.”
Caswell added that Beveridge has contributed more than $177,000 to TAFCL since 1993.
“We can only do what we can do, but markets have been good lately,” Caswell said. “We’re a conduit not just for funding, but for ideas and communication and sometimes extra encouragement at times when it’s most needed. [Those at TAFCL] are the ones who do the hard work, our job is easy.”

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