Dear Imagine friends and family,
As the COVID pandemic in California finishes its third month, we’re taking stock of how grateful we are to the employees working to make sure that throughout the lockdown and in the face of plague, the people we serve are protected, respected and entertained. At the request of two families, the Board of Directors voted to establish a Gratitude Fund. Imagine will match the gifts to the fund up to $15,000 and provide thank you gifts to the staff. Five families have already given $3,000. There are more details in the newsletter.
The COVID report from last month stands again this month. To date no employee of or individual served has tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus. The diligence of staff and adaptability of individuals deserve credit for that. Imagine served one woman who was temporarily displaced from her home due to the implementation of shelter-in-place. We set up a “surge” program to provide temporary care for others who would be displaced during a quarantined recovery and then we took it down gladly when it wasn’t needed. One consequence of our surge program- Imagine’s supply of disinfectants, sanitizers, air cleaners and personal protective equipment sits ready for future trouble. I wouldn’t want to be a euglena innocently crossing the threshold of 9065 Soquel Drive.
So far, the Imagine community has avoided any cases of COVID-19 among those we serve and our staff, although we have racked up a bunch of negative Coronavirus tests, seeking them as available and called for. It is important to recognize that cases in Santa Cruz County have been increasing recently and that the need to take care remains. We aren’t out of this yet.
While the public health crisis continues, the economic challenge has begun. To close the state budget amid a sharp drop in tax revenue and plenty of extra work to pay for, the Governor has proposed steep cuts to almost everything the state funds. Imagine faces a 7.5% drop in revenue if the legislature passes the revised budget. These cuts will be rescinded if the federal government provides at least $15 billion in funding to California. While we hope for that relief, we’re preparing for the cuts to go through as proposed and to last for two years.
If you’ve read Imagine’s annual reports, this column or most of our fundraising appeals, you are familiar with the following idea: We fundraise and balance our budgets so that our support survives the crises that will come throughout the lives of those we serve. 7.5% would be the steepest cuts Imagine has suffered. We have begun planning for how to minimize losses while protecting the quality of our services. We believe that we can avoid the most damaging solutions, which are those that would materially impact the support our agency provides to our clients and direct care workers or our compliance with regulations. The budgetary solution that can get us through an extended period of reduced funding looks to be a combination of prudent cuts, planned growth and reliance on our cash reserves.
Thank you once more to all whose generosity built those reserves. The board will meet June 12th and the agenda will be dominated by a first revision to the budget passed in April. The meeting will be remote, of course, and you are welcome to participate or just keep a weather eye. Contact Lili for the link. There is more detail about the cuts and our plans for facing them. We also plan to have community-wide conversations on the best ideas for protecting the quality of our care as well as our cash reserves.
Sadly, we lost Cheryl Hewitt who was a local advocate for people and succumbed to an infection unrelated, as far as we know, to Coronavirus. Imagine remembers her here. The second is a statement written by Tina, a pioneer of the self-determination pilot program since 2000 and one of the first people in California’s statewide Self-Determination program. Tina wrote this statement to address her regional center but it was so clarifying that I requested and received permission to include it here.
In the Human Resources column this month, Patty has updates on the coronavirus and our approach to keeping folks safe and healthy, and some updates on Coronavirus testing. If you work at Imagine, please do read her column.
As ever, if you have any questions, feedback or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can write me here.