Region’s nonprofits make it happen | SierraSun.com

Region’s nonprofits make it happen

Photo by Josh Miller/Sierra Sun Wellspring Counseling Center Executive Director Jennifer Cannell juggles the phones, as well as her two daughters, Lucy and Emma Pyle. As the half-time executive director of Wellspring and a mother of two, Cannell has her hands full.
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For Truckee counseling agency leader Jennifer Cannell, running a nonprofit means having her hands full – sometimes literally.On any given day Cannell, the executive director of Wellspring Counseling Center, is juggling her two daughters – ages 4 and 1 – answering phones, taking messages, writing grants, reaching out to other agencies, and managing her part-time staff of nine; all on top of running an agency that takes care of the mental health of more than 330 of the area’s uninsured and underinsured residents each year.Furthermore, she’s supposed to do all this in 20 hours each week.”It really takes me away from the visionary part of my agency,” she said. “It’s more survival-oriented rather than visionary.”Cannell is clear to say that she’s not complaining; she’s very passionate about her work, not unlike the others in her shoes who devote countless unpaid hours to nonprofit organizations that serve people in the Truckee-North Tahoe community.Meanwhile, Cannell’s agency – like many local nonprofits – is caught in limbo. Wellspring needs to grow with the needs of the area, but its funding from the state and county is decreasing.For example, a grant Wellspring received from the state last year was cut this year. Without that grant, Wellspring cannot provide inexpensive counseling to people in Placer County, which falls within Wellspring’s service area.”We have to figure out how to provide the same services to everyone in the community within the restrictions of our grant funding,” Cannell said.A way to boost struggling organizations

Since government funds have become so wishy washy, local groups have had to depend on fund-raising campaigns and support from their community. Most local nonprofits run on lean budgets, so local donations go further toward making a difference, said Lisa Dobey, president of the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation.For example “they don’t have staff people dedicated to fund-raising,” Dobey said. “The executive directors do this on top of running the organization.”The Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation is an organization that works toward alleviating some of the financial challenges local organizations face. The foundation raises money for grants through private donations, challenge grants, and fund-raisers, which include the Community Ski/Ride Pass and the Gifts for Good Campaign.The foundation has also begun to provide training for staff of local nonprofits, who can’t access workshops out of the area as easily.”Because this community is fairly isolated, there’s less opportunity for people to go to training, and that’s a role the foundation has picked up that we never really expected would be a part of what we do,” Dobey said.Relying on volunteersLeigh Fitzpatrick is a part-time staff of one in an organization charged with providing the Truckee area with a network of trails. The Truckee Trails Foundation formed in response to the Truckee Trails & Bikeways Master Plan, which calls for a network of 130-plus miles of trails and bike paths in Truckee.As the executive director of the Truckee Trails Foundation, Fitzpatrick raises money, writes grants, represents his organization in the public and oversees all the administrative work and financial work involved in a nonprofit organization.Fitzpatrick said it’s his board of directors and volunteer base that allow the Truckee Trails Foundation to fulfill its mission.”I’m very fortunate to work with a board of directors that is, bar none, the best working board of directors that I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “We all put in long hours.”

The Trails Foundation board members do everything from the organization’s Web site to project management.Fitzpatrick said the foundation’s volunteer support on Truckee Trails Day and other events keeps the organization moving.”We’ve had incredible volunteer support,” Fitzpatrick said. “I have never been around a group that steps up with the sweat equity to make it happen.”‘Here, we can do it’It’s the small size of the community – and the feeling that people can make a difference – that keeps people involved in the nonprofit world, said Dobey, who has worked in the nonprofit sector for her entire professional career.”I used to live in Oakland; You always felt problems were so big and there were so many people who needed help. The ability to deal with that is so overwhelming,” she said. “Here, we can do it. We can respond to issues and problems and do something to solve the problem.”That’s why these groups try and find ways to make it happen, she said. Whether it’s Tahoe Forest Hospice’s thrift stores, Cannell’s countless hours spent writing grants, or engaging a strong volunteer base, local nonprofits are finding ways to provide services to people in Truckee and North Tahoe.Fitzpatrick said it’s the diversity and might of the people behind the community’s nonprofits that make all the difference.”Truckee’s really fortunate to have the nonprofit community it does, covering every aspect of life – from affordable housing to the humane society,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a truly extraordinary group of nonprofits trying to make a difference in Truckee.”

A BIT MORETruckee Tahoe Community FoundationFormed in 1998 with a $1 million gift from William Hewlett, the community foundation is a vehicle for people and businesses in the region to provide local dollars to respond to local needs and opportunities.On the Net: http://www.ttcf.orgWellspring Counseling CenterOn the Net: http://www.wellspringcounseling.orgTruckee Trails FoundationOn the Net: http://www.truckeetrails.org