by CK Lee, FCSN President
Dear FCSN Families and Friends,
I would like to give you the FCSN annual report via newsletter during this challenging time. My wish is that you and your family are doing well. My hope is that everyone stays safe.
Since 2019, FCSN has been working on technology upgrades which include both hardware and software. You may have noticed that some of FCSN’s programs now use online registration instead of paper forms. The volunteer management system helps FCSN communicate better with all the volunteers. The member database and human resource information system (HRIS) helps internal management tremendously. Currently we are working on a client management system, cybersecurity, and our website. These enhancements require resources to support them, and we appreciate all the help from our donors, volunteers, and board, so that we can continue to make FCSN better.
FCSN has been an organization for 24 years, and we have grown to over 1000 family members. Unfortunately, some families drift away for various reasons. In the past year we have tried very hard to connect with more members because we want to hear from them to see how we can better serve our members’ needs. We have held a monthly “friendship forever” parent lunch meeting, and we also have held a full-day core member meeting. From these meetings we have strengthened our connection with members, and explained the operational challenges to clear up any misunderstandings. We also have realized that it is impossible for FCSN to fulfill everyone’s needs due to limited resources, so we must be creative and think outside the box. Currently we are communicating with other vendors to see if we can better serve our members with a collaboration. We’ve met a director from Trumpet Behavior Company to see if this entity can train our staff, so that our staff knows how to better serve our clients with behavior challenges. We will also invite the LSA executive director to talk about their group home living services, since not all members’ loved ones are able to utilize supported living. These are all on-going efforts, and if you know of any good vendors, please introduce them to us too.
FCSN has held an annual gala fundraising event since 2002, and the gala format and $100 ticket price has not changed for 17 years; however, the total cost of each participant is now much more than $100, so we had to make some changes in 2019. After some discussion, the gala committee decided to raise the ticket price to $200 and reduce the number of guests to 350. This was a big change as we’ve hosted 800 to 1,200 guests in the past years. Many members also brought up concerns that the ticket price was too high. In the past years the gala has served multiple purposes including fundraising, member reunion, and our special kids’ performances, but starting from 2019 we wanted to shift the focus of the gala and make fundraising the sole purpose. With a clearer goal in mind, we were able to plan this event better. We received a lot of positive feedback and ended up achieving our fundraising goal; we will continue with a similar format in 2020.
Earlier this year, we were preparing to explore some different South Bay after school programs. Unfortunately, we encountered the coronavirus outbreak in early March, and many members suggested stopping all programs to protect our children, especially because many special needs persons are most at-risk. We halted enrichment programs and family gatherings from the first week of March but kept vendorized programs at that time since they were funded by the regional center. Stopping those programs would have required regional center approval. When the San Francisco Bay Area shelter-in-place order took effect on March 16th, FCSN stopped all vendorized programs except for essential services. We understand that this is a tough time for everyone, and we want to take care of our staff as much as we can, even if we cannot hold our regular programs in person. Therefore, Albert, Anna, Sylvia, Lilian, and I have decided that most of our staff (excluding coffee shop staff and respite workers) will continue to receive their regular pay. We also want to express our appreciation to our essential workers during this unprecedented period, so the working staff will receive double pay.* We are so grateful for everyone’s willingness to help. Our staff quickly organized online courses for our clients, so everyone can stay connected with each other remotely. Below is an example of our East Bay ADP online courses. We are truly blessed to have so many dedicated and wonderful staff members.
This year brings new challenges for us all. Even though FCSN annual meetings will be canceled, we will continue to have volunteer awards, board elections, and the like. Although many things are uncertain, FCSN is ready to face any situation. Let’s stay close even if we are apart!