Philomath Community Services, a nonprofit organization that oversees five local outreach programs, has seen a lot since its establishment in December 1991. Through it all, the group has survived various types of growing pains to improve upon its services to the community.
However, the board of directors decided that the time has come to bring in an executive director to manage daily operations. Working under the board, the individual will tackle tasks from raising money to cultivating donors to improving public relations.
Van Hunsaker, a former Philomath mayor, is now in the last couple of months of his second three-year term on the board.
"Van was basically our executive director," PCS board treasurer Bardon Maginnis said. "We need to replace that and we couldn't find any willing volunteers who spend 20 hours a week here. I've been involved with a lot of nonprofits and it's kind of a logical growth step."
Philomath Community Services has come to oversee five programs since its founding 27 years ago — Food Bank, June's Kids Kloset, Gleaners, Lupe's Community Garden and Holiday Cheer. In all, PCS provides services to approximately 2,000 low-income residents in Philomath and western Benton County.
"We had come to the conclusion that we need at least to study the issue," Hunsaker said about bringing in an executive director. "In 2017, that was one of our goals to evaluate. We appointed a committee and they spent six to eight months to evaluate our circumstances and what we can do, what we need to do more. As far as I'm concerned, we don't get everything done as well as we can."
Current volunteers are putting in a fair amount of time, Hunsaker added. Maginnis said the organization has come a long way since Hunsaker came on board.
"Before Van got here, we were basically run by people who ran it without much organization or much structure and Van's done a fabulous job of having the paperwork in place — we can handle grievances, we have a budget cycle, we have a grant cycle, we have all kinds of good things in place," Maginnis said. "It's a world better than when he got here."
Still, Hunsaker said a lot of work remains.
"We have made a lot of progress and there's still more to do everything right," he said. "So that committee had come to the conclusion that yes, we need to hire somebody."
As of the Nov. 1 closing date on the job announcement, at least six candidates had expressed interest.
Hunsaker briefly considered looking into the position himself, but he wants to focus more on his involvement with the Linn-Benton Community Organizations Active in Disaster group. However, he will continue to volunteer with PCS and serve on committees.
The board anticipated looking at applications received this week with the goal of bringing someone into the position by the first of the year.
"The recommendation is that it would be a half-time position with probably the expectation that at some point it would turn into a full-time position," Hunsaker said.
To get an idea of the volume of work that Hunsaker had been involved with as board president, the directors asked him to calculate how much time he spent on various tasks.
"One of the things that we don't do very well is getting out in the community and making sure the community is aware of us and as a result, fundraising," Hunsaker said. "So that's an area that I think they'll be busy with as part of their job — getting out in the community and helping us be better known, which creates more support."
Hunsaker said the executive director will be responsible for making sure the day-to-day operations run smoothly from purchasing to providing for building maintenance to communicating with the public.
"Administratively, we're not real great on getting back on phone calls," Hunsaker cited as an example. "If somebody leaves a message, it might sit there a few days so it's that public part of it."
Staying on top of policies and procedures that help support the workflow represent another important function, Hunsaker said. For example, PCS was recently advised by its insurance company that a safety policy should be in place.
"There are things we need to work on an ongoing basis to make the organization function in an appropriate manner," Hunsaker said. "That's where that position really comes in."
Nonprofit organizations adopt many of the same principles that are found in the business world.
"You want to be judicious with the money you get and do a good job with it, so it's important to function more like a business than not," Hunsaker said.
The Philomath Community Services property borders city land and a large project is coming down the road with the construction of a new water treatment plant. The city has started the process with preliminary engineering.
"The parking lot out front by the trees, that row of trees, that belongs to them," Hunsaker said. "It's city property and this spring, they came to us and said their projections in the past had been maybe 10 years out but now it's in a couple of years. So they came to us and said we're going to have to do this and this is how this is going to impact you."
As such, future actions involving the PCS building will also fall into the lap of the executive director. Besides any impacts from the neighboring city property, the building also sits in a flood plain and there are hurdles to clear when considering facility improvements or expansions.
As for the board of directors, it hopes to eventually get up to its goal of 13 members. Currently, the board has seven with four of those serving on the executive committee with Hunsaker as president, Jean Goul as vice president, Karen Rowe as secretary and Maginnis as treasurer.
The current number of board members can create issues because a meeting of the executive committee constitutes a quorum. Hunsaker said it is anticipated that two or three others will join the board Jan. 1.