I hope 2022 is treating you well so far. I am thrilled to announce, after so many months of negative news about the pandemic, that Evergreen has not had a COVID case among our staff or persons served in over six weeks. We were able to lift our travel ban, allowing our employees to resume regular business travel. Of course, we are keeping an eye on the new COVID variants and will enact proper preventative precautions if CDC guidelines change in any area where we provide services. Our programs at Evergreen Life Services are returning to full operation again. If you are visiting your loved one at a community home, we will ask for proof of vaccination. If you haven’t been vaccinated – you will need to have your visit outside until further notice.
Last year, Woodland Presbyterian Church in Pineville, Louisiana, donated its church to Evergreen when its congregation closed its doors. This incredible gift was a tremendous blessing to Evergreen, and we are excited to share our vision for its use.
This beautiful building will allow Evergreen to expand programs for persons supported in our Central LA Division, including the relocation of their Krafty Kreations retail store. Future ideas for the new property include an expanded horticultural center, an outdoor activity center, walking trails and many more opportunities for meaningful year-round programs.
This building will also serve as an emergency hurricane evacuation center, reducing undue stress that each hurricane season creates for the people in our care and the staff forced to evacuate in Louisiana divisions. Evergreen has already addressed immediate structural needs, but we have a long way before the building is ready to be used as a shelter. We will need to increase the number of bathrooms and make the bathrooms fully accessible, purchase and install generators, add more kitchen appliances and incur many other major expenses for our long-term evacuation needs.
If needed for this upcoming hurricane season, we will be seeking support for emergency needs such as shelf-stable food, water, cots, bedding, and other supplies. The use of this building can save Evergreen tens of thousands of dollars annually by not having to pay for temporary housing and care when we have to evacuate and if storms damage our homes.
Our Board of Directors recently completed strategic planning work to ensure Evergreen continues providing quality services far into the future. The Board identified four strategic areas which will guide our work. These include:
1. Restoration, services enhancement, and responsible expansion.
2. Growing and diversifying revenue.
3. Increased advocacy work.
4. Adapting our structure in advance of opportunity.
R. Lewis Smith, Evergreen’s Chair of the Board of Directors, is working closely with me in assuring our executive staff team members are constantly seeking new revenue generation opportunities. We continue to focus on quality in all our services and programs, developing a culture of innovation across all areas of operations and working to assure efficiencies. Focusing on these initiatives will assure you that we will be here providing the best in care, programming, and services today and for years to come.
Our HEAVENDROPt signature social enterprise, where we repurpose “retired” military parachutes into valuable new products, is teaming up with several other nonprofit organizations in Florida to make products which a portion of the net profits support those affected by the war in Ukraine. HEAVENDROPt is not only creating jobs for the people we serve, but we are creating items such as support bracelets, shirts, and other items that will be sold to support humanitarian efforts for Ukrainian citizens
Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Please consider purchasing a HEAVENDROPt bracelet or necklace from the array of products made by persons with disabilities at www.heavendropt.org. Doing so supports the individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities we support directly and veterans with disabilities. Plus, any item from HEAVENDROPt will put a big smile on any Mom’s face.
Thank you for your unwavering support of Evergreen, especially throughout the last two very challenging years. We could not have gotten through COVID and the devastation from hurricanes that we experienced without you. I look forward to brighter times ahead!
Sue Buchholtz, DBA, MBA