Agencies take a bite out of collaboration reluctance
Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 7:00 am | Updated: 7:00 am, Sat Aug 30, 2014.
An agreement between Broken Arrow Neighbors and the Gatesway Foundation has grown into a full-fledged partnership that both parties say they can really get their teeth into.
Judi Myers, Gatesway CEO, said for several years her agency maintained small medical and dental clinics with volunteer doctors for the adults with developmental disabilities her organization serves. As part of a friendship forged by Myers and Broken Arrow Neighbors Executive Director Kim Goddard, both of these facilities were made available at no cost to BAN’s team of volunteer doctors to serve that agency’s clients.
That agreement took a bit of a turn when BAN had to relocate the medical clinic to its headquarters because changing conditions and the rapid growth of Gatesway’s vocational services operation forced a repurposing of that space into offices.
Myers said she hated to make a second call advising Goddard that the advent of mobile dentistry – which better suited her doctors and clients – along with a continuing need for additional office space made it necessary to close the dental clinic as well.
Ironically, Goddard said she had already been thinking about opening a dental office to compliment her medical operation in BAN’s new headquarters building which is under construction and scheduled to become operational in October.
“I asked our general contractor what we would be looking at in the way of cost to do that,” Goddard said. “When he told me it would take at least $20,000 to do the cabinets and sinks alone, my heart just sank. I really didn’t know what I was going to do.”
That dilemma was quickly resolved when Myers called and said if BAN could use any of the cabinets, sinks and pieces of equipment in her clinic, she would gladly donate them.
“What an incredibly generous act on Judi’s part,” Goddard said. “I don’t think she fully appreciates what a tremendous difference it makes in the forward movement of our organization.”
Both Myers and Goddard said they began their careers at a time when non-profit agencies viewed themselves as competitors with all other non-profits. Any sort of collaboration was virtually unheard of. Fortunately, both executives say those days are quickly fading into history.
“Foundations and most other significant donors ask these days for details on your community partnerships,” Goddard said. “They place a high level of importance on these types of collaborations and collective impact certainly is a factor in many funding choices.”
Myers agreed, but said the relationship between Gatesway and Broken Arrow Neighbors goes beyond dollars and cents.
“We have tremendous respect for Kim and her agency and will do anything we possibly can to support them,” she said. “And I know she feels exactly the same way.”
Goddard said when her new dental clinic is ready to begin accepting patients, Gatesway’s donation will be recognized in a permanent way.
“That’s the kind of thing friends and partners do,” she said.