The following is a message from Tom Weaver, CEO of Achieve Services, Inc.:
Turning the corner on a new year is always a good time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past, and to anticipate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. At Achieve, we finished 2012 strong, and we see lots of promise and exciting potential on the horizon.
Achieve chalked up a number of successes last year, and I’d like to highlight just a few of them here.
First, we introduced a new art-themed concept for our Spring Fundraising Gala. The event featured some incredible artwork created by our participants, mixed in with a few beautiful pieces contributed by talented local artists. We had a spirited live auction, raffles and music. The event surpassed expectations, and we’ve used some of the proceeds to purchase a number of iPads. The iPad’s touchscreen technology enables many of our participants to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas that had previously been locked inside. Other participants use the devices for video calls with family members in distant locations. We continue to discover new and exciting uses for this technology!
Last summer, we were visited by a team of CARF inspectors. CARF is the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. The inspectors spent a couple of days with us, conducting interviews, reviewing our programs, policies and procedures, and inspecting our vehicles and facilities. In the end,CARF gave us high marks and a 3-year accreditation – their highest rating. We were especially pleased with CARF’s comments recognizing the dedication and quality of our staff and board of directors.
Speaking of our board of directors, we added four stellar board members last year. Jim Deal, along with his wife Pam, owns PSD, LLC, a land development company. John Bennett is a vice president at Western Bank, and heads up the bank’s non-profit portfolio. Jim Steffen is the founder and president of Trott Brook Financial. In addition, Barbara Nellessen, controller at TPAC, has rejoined our board. The business, financial and policy acumen these members bring adds considerable strength and diversity to our board.
We also embarked on a campaign to distinguish Achieve from other service providers. Our consultant, LevelBrand, pulled together staff, board members, employers, and guardians to discuss Achieve and what we do, and what sets us apart. That effort led to the coining of the term “Personability.” We’ve defined “Personability” as a unique blend of personality and ability that every Achieve worker brings to the job. You’ll be seeing a lot more of Personability down the road!
Achieve finished the year in strong financial condition as well. Our revenues exceeded our forecast, and we spent less than we’d budgeted. We’ve also restructured our budget to enhance transparency and accountability, and received very high marks from our independent auditor.
Most importantly, our participants continued to flourish in 2012. We increased the number and variety of jobs in the community, and we established relationships with new business partners. We also added projects to our center-based workshop, giving our participants some new and challenging work. It has been incredibly gratifying to work with employers who truly recognize the value of hiring people with disabilities.
With 2012 now behind us, we are focused on and encouraged by the opportunities ahead. We are exploring ways to expand our arts program, potentially delving into performing arts (we have a number of talented participants who really enjoy the spotlight!). We are also considering adding more space – we are at capacity in our current site, with a waiting list of people requesting to join our programs.
Our biggest challenge continues to be the uncertainty of future revenue. Medical Assistance (MA) payments account for over 95 percent of our revenue stream. The state has been working on a new MA rate structure for several years, and is supposed to be introducing new rates during this legislative session. While the state’s proposal hasn’t been released yet, recent history suggests that it may not be favorable for programs like ours. We hope the Governor’s recent budget proposal is not a harbinger of things to come: In it, Gov. Dayton proposed that our annual license fee go from the current $2,665 to an astounding $17,785! So once again, we’ll be working closely with our industry colleagues on a legislative strategy to ensure that future license fees and rate changes won’t adversely impact our programs and the people we serve.
All in all, we are proud of what we’ve accomplished, and we believe that our future is full of promise and opportunity. We are so grateful for the encouragement and support we’ve received from so many of you along the way – you are an important part of our success. Thank you for sharing the journey, and hang on tight as we round the bend!