Perry Township Board Meeting Notes

May 7, 2015

           

The meeting is called to order at 3:18pm.

 

Members Present: Barb Sturbaum, Susie Hamilton, Jack Davis, Dan Combs

 

Non-members present: Pat Combs, Sharon Yoder, Kevin Robling, Novella Shuck, Patrick Murray, Bob Miller (Martha’ House), Forrest Gilmore (Shalom Community Center), Dwayne Gordon (Wheeler Mission), Cal Nelson (Wheeler Mission),  Bruce Ervin (First Christian Church),Susan Dabkewski (community member), Danielle Sorden (Shalom Community Center), Diana Hoffman (Shalom board member), Lauren Slavin (Herald Times)

 

Agenda:

Stepping Stones

Martha’s House Update

Detox Center/Martha’s House/New Beginnings/Wheeler Mission

Additional Appropriation

Other

 

Stepping Stones:

Stepping Stone’s financial/funding cycles are different than ours. They are asking that the community grant we awarded them be broken into 2 payments, the first receivable on 6/30/15 and the second at the end of the year. The Board members state they do not have a problem with this, as long as organizations do not begin asking for grants to be broken down into any more than 2 payments.

 

Susie moves to approve for the Stepping Stones grant to be divided in 2 payments. Jack seconds and all vote to approve.

 

Martha’s House:

Dan invited Martha’s House board member Patrick Murray to the meeting to give the Board an update on their 501c3 status. Patrick states that as of now, all their 990 forms have been submitted. They have also discovered that they have to reapply for nonprofit status. Dan states that we may still have all the paperwork from when Martha’s House originally applied for this, which may help them. Jack asks for a time frame on getting the nonprofit status approved or renewed, and Patrick states that it would take possibly three months. The nonprofit status would be new, but could be backdated.

 

Dan asks what effect this business has had on fundraising, and Patrick states that fundraising has decreased substantially, making meeting their budget tough, but they will try to make it.

 

Dan asks Patrick to let Perry Township know before it happens if they find they will not be able to meet their budget.  Dan also comments on how though there has been a lot of negative comments being made about the Martha’s House board, no one is noting that the board, including Patrick, are not paid. They are volunteers. Barb asks if Perry Township has already allocated all our funds to Martha’s House so far, and is reminded that we have allocated two of the four payments thus far.

 

At this point, the Board pauses to recognize and honor the contributions that Patrick Murray has made to Martha’s House over they years. A framed certificate signed by the board is presented to Patrick.

 

Detox Center/Martha’s House/New Beginnings/Wheeler Mission

Discussion is now opened on the matter of Martha’s House future as home to a detox center. Present at this meeting are Bob Miller, president of Martha’s House, and Dwayne Gordon, Director of Camp Hunt for Wheeler Mission.

 

Bob begins the discussion by giving an overview of the issue: discussion has been going on for months about New Beginnings, the proposed detox center that would take over Martha’s House. Martha’s House has been dealing with a constant struggle to keep its doors open over many years. The transformation of Martha’s House into a detox center would address that issue as well as provide a needed community service. Over time, Wheeler Mission has also become a major part of this discussion and essentially evolved into the principle agency they are in negotiations with as a successor to Martha’s House Inc.

 

As the current proposal stands, Wheeler Mission would assume responsibility for a shelter on south side of building on South Rogers and a detox center on the north side of building. There is room to modestly alter the south side of the building to accommodate both men and women, as the detox center would take over what is currently the women’s side of the shelter. They are also deciding with the board of judges how to utilize this facility in cooperation with the criminal justice element. Bob states that they intend to have a vote of the Martha’s House board to have Wheeler Mission succeed Martha’s House, Inc in running emergency shelter operations. Essentially, the emergency shelter will still exist there, and the addition of the detox center is the only difference.

 

Dwayne states that Wheeler Mission was invited to become a part of the New Beginnings exploratory committee is headed by Bruce Ervin (present) and other community leaders, businessmen, and local churches.As Wheeler Mission has gotten more involved regarding New Beginning’s structure, they have been continually evaluating how the Mission will be helping and what everyone’s role will be. Wheeler Mission was established in 1893 and raises a budget of $8.5 million each year from donors. This organizational depth is a benefit that they think Martha’s House sees and admires. It is the premier shelter provider in Indianapolis. Their programs are specific to long term addiction recover, and belong to a long-term continuum of care that gives them experience connecting their clients with different resources in the community.

 

So far, they have drafted a program plan and an operating agreement for the detox center, similar to what the Township has with Martha’s House. Bob states that the detox center will at this point be ready for transition no sooner than August 1, 2015. So far they have been in meetings with the county’s judges, and they will also be meeting with the police about giving their offenders options to pursue detoxification as opposed to incarceration. Patrick is leaving the Martha’s House board at the end of June, and at this point they do foresee that Martha’s House will need assistance with funding to get through the period before the transition takes place. As they have lost their tax status, they know there are certain avenues that they can no longer go to for funds. The Township and Wheeler Mission will also need to have discussions regarding physical modifications to Martha’s House. They also need to get the criminal justice community on board with their operations. Dwayne states they have also developed a mock budget and other materials to present to their own board for approval on 5/20.

 

Jack asks if the neighborhood has been approached regarding the opening of a detox center, and Bob states that they have. Bob states there had even been talk in the past of offering a similar service in a local church in the neighborhood. The addition of a detox center will not really change the type of client that may be in the area. If anything, the addition of the detox center will see a heightened police presence in the neighborhood. There were worries expressed about increased crime and loitering, but they feel they were able to alleviate these worries among those they spoke with. Jack asks if the shelter will have to close for a time during transition, and Bob states that it will ideally be kept open. Additionally, religion will not be a component of the programming clients receive at the detox center. Jack asks if there will be medical personnel on call in-residence, and Dwayne states their goal is to model their facility on another facility, The Healing Place in Kentucky. The hospital there has a partnership with the facility because it alleviates ER trips, and it even granted the facility a van to use for their operations. The detox facility will do a quick intake assessment that will sometimes transport clients to the hospital to have clients cleared for liability purposes, before returning them to the detox center. The ER would therefore serve as the medically-certified partners in this endeavor. Dwayne states the staffing in the detox facility would be CPR-certified laypeople with more qualified addictions-certified staff as well.

 

The activities within the building must be totally secular, since it is a government-owned building. The Township has had experience with this in the past, such as when the Salvation Army ran a transitional housing program for the Township. In that case, a rack of literature on available religious programming in the community was okay, as long as it was not exclusive to one religion, which Dwayne states the center would not be.

 

Dan asks if Dwayne anticipates that the detox participants would move to the emergency shelter after having completed programming, or if the shelter will be run through walk-in procedure as it currently is. Dwayne states that their goal is for no one to stay in the detox program for more than two weeks. Their program’s required length would range from 3 to 14 days. Both the detox and shelter programs would involve case management.

 

Dan asks if there will be any type of local board, so that any time an issue comes up they do not have to go through Indianapolis. Dwayne states there is a local advisory board of local businesses, churches, etc in Bloomington.

 

Forrest Gilmore expresses concern about the overall net loss of shelter beds at the shelter facility. Currently, Martha’s House has a capacity of 40 beds. The north side has 12, and the south side has28. If the south side of the building remains a shelter, it will be maintain the capacity for walk-in clients, whereas on the north side they would accommodate court-ordered clients as well.

 

Cal Nelson, chief program officer on the executive team for Wheeler Mission, states that they have visited a number of organizations that have non-medical detox operations, Mel Trotter being one of them. Their staffing contains registered nurses because the law in that city dictates that they cannot hand of clients/patients to people with lesser medical expertise.

 

The detox center is looking for ways to get their clients to commit to at least 48-to-72-hour engagements with their facility, so that they can get in crucial case management services. The question is how to legally require this of clients who want to leave of their own free will. This is an issue where the cooperation of the courts can give the organization leverage.It will be more difficult to enforce a policy with walk-in clients, as the facility would have no legal standing to keep them. In those cases, they would have to set parameters where, for example, a client would not be welcome back to the facility until the next month after failing to comply with program requirements.

 

Dan states that the Township has made a commitment to the neighborhood that we would not send intoxicated people away or become a magnet for intoxicated people. We still need to make sure we keep this promise. Referrals will probably be a significant percentage of the population seeking detox services. He also states that he was not aware until now how intimately Wheeler Mission was going to be involved in the center. These may be factors that the community may be concerned about.Also, Dan asked for clarification on the necessity of a Board of Zoning Appeals approval because of its medical nature. They state that the detox center will not have a medical definition at this point.

 

Dwayne states that the mission of the detox center will be same as a homeless shelter, only they will be keeping track of each client’s vital signs as well. And though they do not have anything like the proposed detox center at their other facilities in Indianapolis, essentially any shelter will deal with clients who are detoxing or have detoxed, so they do have knowledge on working with hospitals.

 

Jack requests a copy of the Appendix items, which would be proposed sample intake forms, etc. Dwayne says he will send that. Also, the issue of liability insurance will be addressed and/or tweaked.

 

Susan, a community member and former program director for Shelter Inc (New Hope) asks if there will be daytime programming still available at the facility. Dwayne says yes in both the detox center and the shelter sides of the building. They will also make sure clients are educated about other community services available outside the facility, such as AA, NA, and church activity for those interested.

 

In regards to the facility’s funding stream, Dwayne states that Wheeler Mission is donor-funded, and their goal is to support this Bloomington effort with Bloomington members. A while back their organization had decided not to seek Bloomington donors because Backstreet Missions was already in place here offering similar things, but now they believe they will be looking at fundraising options in Monroe County. he reminds everyone that with Camp Hunt they are already an existing Monroe County presence.

 

Dwayne is asked if the shelter operations will continue to be run as they are now or if they will become an exit shelter for those leaving the detox program. He states that they still need to work that out logistically. They hope to still move people through the detox program on 14-day timelines, but anticipate having clients that go through detox-to-shelter-to-elsewhere as well as strictly shelter-to-elsewhere clients. Dan states that he expects the center will have to develop an intense network with the local housing network.

 

The next Perry Township board meeting is scheduled for May 18th at 2:00pm.

 

Additional Appropriation:

The proposed additional appropriation would allocate $30,000 from our existing surplus to run the Martha’s House shelter in the event that Wheeler Mission does not take over operations.

 

Barb motions we appropriate the $30,000 into our closeout fund for the shelter as a precautionary measure in case Wheeler Mission does not take over shelter operations themselves. Jack seconds the motion and all vote in approval.

 

We will ask Wheeler Mission to indemnify us. Dan also states that he has no problem with Wheeler Mission partnering to operate their detox center as long as they are truly act in a secular fashion. Kevin expresses concern that this will be the first time that Wheeler Mission has tried to run a detox center, and Dan states that they are operating on a tight timeline. Bruce’s churches also want to be part of the advisory committee. The board also needs to put together a list of concerns to discuss for the next meeting. One of those concerns is Bruce having mentioned earlier in the meeting that they will not have medical people inside the detox facility. It is also important to to not let the 500lb gorilla that is Wheeler Mission completely steer the boat as this proposal evolves very quickly. We may want to request a budget breakdown for their anticipated operations.  

 

Barb adjourns the meeting at 4:28pm