Michael: Hello and welcome to the HaBO Village Podcast. I'm Michael Redman-
Kathryn: And I'm Kathryn Redman.
Michael: ... and today we have another guest with us that is going to be really fun to talk to. Today we're going to talk about nonprofit leadership. This is one of those days that we give some love to the nonprofits that listen and pay attention to us because we work with a lot of nonprofits, we love nonprofits. It's been this other really somewhat hidden thing in our agency for the last 18 years and even before that Kathryn and I worked in the nonprofit world. So, Kathryn, introduce our guest today.
Kathryn: We are excited to welcome Dr. Rob Harter. He's not a medical doctor.
Michael: [crosstalk 00:00:42] not on TV? Don't give any medical advice, nope.
Kathryn: He's a nonprofit executive professional. He's got 25 years of experience. He's the Executive Director of CCPC, which is a humanitarian community-focused nonprofit in Park City, Utah, so we'll talk a little bit about that.
Kathryn: He has his own podcast that we got to be on, it's the Nonprofit Leadership Podcast.
Michael: We did.
Kathryn: We had a great time doing that. I'm curious what it means to be honored to have chaired the MLK Jr. Commission for Human Rights, so I want to hear a little bit more about that for the state of Utah. And he's currently Chair of the Utah Nonprofit Association Board. There's a lot here. You have a lot going on. I'm tired for you.
Michael: And he lives in [inaudible 00:01:23].
Kathryn: He lives in Arizona. He also-
Michael: That's a joke. He doesn't live in Arizona.
Kathryn: No. He also is recognized as a Hometown Hero by Salt Lake City Magazine.
Rob: Oh. I thought that was kind of cool. I was surprised.
Kathryn: I'm curious about that too.
Michael: You hero, you.
Kathryn: Because he [inaudible 00:01:36] in Park City, Utah of course he loves deep powder skiing, and he's probably much better at it than I am, hiking, mountain biking, great books and traveling, when we're not in COVID-19 and, most of all, loves spending time with his amazing wife and children. How many of these young folk do you have?
Rob: I have three girls, three daughters.
Kathryn: Three girls. How old are they?
Rob: My oldest is 20 and then it goes to 18, and then to 15.
Kathryn: 20, 18 and 15.
Michael: That's so funny. Most people wouldn't say this, but I like that age group a lot.
Kathryn: That's a fun age.
Michael: I like the high school age group that pre right around colleges. Is your middle a freshman yet or is she a senior?
Rob: Yeah, so my middle one is actually a senior in high school.
Michael: Yeah, yeah. It's a fun, amazing time where they're just trying to wrap their brains around their own independence and, as parents, we are trying to learn how to figure out what to do with that independence. Yeah, no. That's a neat period of time.
Michael: Cool. Welcome. Thank you for taking the time to be on the show today.
Rob: Absolutely. Thanks for having me. It's great to be on the show and we loved having you on the show, of course, on the Nonprofit Leadership Podcast. It went viral. We had about two million views, just want to let you know.
Rob: Okay, okay. Well, maybe not. All right. Maybe in about 10 years it will. I think over 10 years it will.
Kathryn: [crosstalk 00:02:57] on he's not a medical doctor and he lies.
Rob: That was a bad way to start. That's true. It was really bad.
Kathryn: He exaggerates.
Rob: That's all it was, yeah. It may happen. See, it may happen. We don't know yet.
Kathryn: Projecting into the future. I like it.
Michael: Let's talk about ... Set the stage for people listening right now, the organization you have and what you do. Just give us the brief 30,000 level.
Rob: Yeah, so I lead CCPC, as you mentioned. It's a humanitarian community center and real short, we serve two different counties, Summit County and Wasatch County here, just in the Park City area. We do end up serving the entire state of Utah in different ways.
Rob: For example, we have a lot of different service projects and relationships we've developed with the Native American communities around the state, primarily right now the Goshute Tribe, which is in Western Utah, and the Navajo Nation, which is in the Four Corners area.
Rob: Then, on our two campuses in Heber and in Park City, we have food pantries, two of them, we have three different thrift stores, we have a fully-staffed mental health counseling center, we have 16 staff actually in that, that are dedicated to mental health counseling and the variety of services around that.
Rob: We have a little over 50 staff now, paid staff that is, and we have over 1000 volunteers in a given year that jump in for all kinds of programs we have throughout the year with local school kids, low income families. We just do a lot of wraparound services is really what we provide here for mostly a lot of our programs or for the low income and the working class here in Park City and in Heber. But our counseling actually reaches everybody and we do a lot of different things that reaches the full demographic of Park City, which is a very interesting city to serve and to work in.
Michael: Did you found this organization or did you come along after it had been founded?
Rob: Yeah. No, I came along. I'm the second executive director. It was founded 20 years ago. In fact, it's fun, this is our 20th anniversary, so we're having some fun ways even with COVID, we're still celebrating our 20th year. I came 10 years in, so there was an executive director that started it. I came in 10 years after, ironically, so we've both been here for 10 years. I really feel very, very fortunate.
Rob: His name was Tim Dahlin and he started a great organization where it was very healthy. I came into a healthy organization, it was just ready to really go to the next level and it's been fun to see it grow. When I came on there was nine paid staff and one campus, of course, and since then we have over 50 paid staff now, two campuses and, really, a statewide outreach services have grown and grown. So, it's been really exciting to see this place scale over the last 10 years.
Kathryn: And what does CCPC stand for?
Rob: Yeah, Christian Center of Park City.
Kathryn: Got it, okay.
Rob: Yeah, we're so used to saying CCPC now, but yeah. That's what it's called.
Kathryn: Yeah, [inaudible 00:05:46].
Rob: Mm-hmm (affirmative). We have learned that most nonprofits love their acronyms. It's something-
Michael: It is. I think it is. It's kind of a nonprofit thing. You got to have at least 10 or 12 in your organization.
Michael: How did you expand? Because when you mentioned Four Corners and then just a minute ago you said statewide, that's quite a breadth. For those of you who don't know, Four Corners is where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado come together and it's an area that's beautiful, but it's desert beautiful, and it's not next door to where you are now, it's a bit of a drive, isn't it?
Rob: That is correct. No, you are exactly right. It's interesting. My predecessor, Tim Dahlin, started a lot of different humanitarian trips, basically, to the Navajo Nation, which is the largest Native American community or tribe in the whole United States, and it's located in the Four Corners area. The majority is in the Arizona side as I've learned, but there's Utah Navajo's, if you will, but there was just a tremendous need and it continues to this day.
Rob: So, we built some friends and connections there and then, the last couple of years, without going into too many details, there was a terrible mine collapse on the Colorado side of the Four Corners area, but that spilled all this toxic material, minerals mostly, and things from that old mine into their water system. Then it spilled into the entire community and so they didn't have a water source.
Rob: That's where we restarted our relationship with them, two years ago brought to them, and then just recently we brought some more because they're still developing and trying to fix their water issue for their community on the Utah side, specifically.
Rob: The, ironically, many people probably have heard through this COVID-19 crisis, that Navajo Nation was hit really hard, for whatever reason it was one of the highest percentage of COVID cases in the whole country, and so we've been trying to provide different things and work with other nonprofits in the state to provide whatever resources they need, whether it be food, clothes, water, et cetera, but to do it safely, too, and that's kind of a tricky thing.
Rob: But yeah, back to your point, it is. It's about a six to eight hour drive, depending on where we end up in the Four Corners area, it's a long drive, but we really, we've got so many resources here in our community, at our nonprofit, at our organization. We love to help out where there's a need. In fact, our motto at our organization is Meeting People at Their Point of Need.
Rob: There was a need that was presented to me and we're like, "Hey, let's see if we can figure this out," and we've been able to do that. So, it's been really a fun partnership. We look forward to doing more of that.
Michael: As you guys actually grew quite a bit in your tenure there, there's probably people listening right now that are going, "Okay. That's a lot of growth." There's a lot of nonprofits that are based in their local community, they would love to reach out more. Matter of fact, they probably go to bed at night sometimes dreaming about how they could reach more needs, but they can never seem to figure out how to overcome some of those major hurdles in the growth process, especially being a nonprofit.
Michael: What were some of the places where you struggled and how did you get over some of those major humps to grow in size, and reach and even staffing.
Rob: Well, that's such a good question because I know a little bit of your story of scaling a business. Scaling a nonprofit is very similar and maybe more challenging, only in the sense that you don't have the capital often. You don't have investors wanting to put capital money into a nonprofit because it's not the same as, say as a tech company, a tech start-up that you're eventually going to get some dividends from.
Rob: The dividends in a nonprofit are just goodwill and helping lots of people, but so I think that's the extra added challenge when you're trying to scale a nonprofit is to have enough resources and then to manage that. So, it's a really good question.
Rob: I mean, I could talk about a lot of things, but maybe two things I would start with is the first would be getting the right people on your team. And so as you grow, for example, when we first started we had people that were in good positions at a certain level of our organization, and they were the right people for that position.
Rob: But as it grew, and as they needed to become more of a manager/leader leading through people, not doing everything on their own, that became challenging because some people did not either know or want to switch and start leading through people, they still wanted to do everything, but they couldn't because they only had 24 hours in a day.
Rob: And, as we expanded, that's one of the things we really had to learn was when you scale, you have to really develop great delegation skills. You have to really develop a great structure where you have the right people in the right positions at the right time.
Rob: That was really a challenge and we definitely stumbled along, made lots of mistakes along the way, but I think that one of the big pieces. And then the second piece that tied to that is we were, in a sense, you could describe us as a mom and pop business.
Rob: The first founding executive director, Tim Dahlin, his wife was the finance director, his daughter, who still works with us which has been great, she was the manager of the thrift store and the food pantry, so it was kind of a family business for the first five to six years.
Rob: Then David Johnson, who is the wife of the daughter, Tracy, they both still work with us. He came on. So, again, you had four people, they hung out, they had lunch together, they had dinner together, they ran this nonprofit together, it was a family business.
Rob: But as I came on they had already got to nine staff approximately. I knew that if we had to keep growing we couldn't just wait to hire people from within, which they normally did. They either got family members or just people within that were volunteers or in the area, retired. I knew we'd have to go out and recruit new people that maybe didn't live here, were not part of the organization yet, but that really came with a skillset to help us go to those next levels of the organization.
Rob: So, moving from a family-run mom and pop business, if you will, to more of a professionally managed organization. We're still in that transition in many ways, even though we're past 50 employees now, but that was the biggest process, honestly, of just how do we do that well? How do we become more professionally managed without becoming too corporate?
Rob: Because one of the great things about our organization is we're not corporate, we don't want to become corporate. We still want to have this family feel and a very relational feel but, at the same time, we had to empower our leaders to manage and lead through others and really actually focus their attention on specific areas, as opposed to trying to be generalists and trying to do a million different things.
Rob: We had to focus them on just a couple of key things so they could really be good at that and expand our food pantry, for example, or expand our counseling center, or whatever the program was. Those two things are the biggest challenges. And honestly, we haven't arrived. We still are still working through some of those challenges.
Kathryn: Wow. Did you find that you were able to be successful with transitioning some of those folks who still wanted to stay hands-on? Or did you end up having to-
Michael: Coach them out.
Kathryn: ... coach them out or readjust their position? I mean, what was your experience through that because I think that is a challenge?
Rob: It really is. Some people self-ejected, they just decided, "No, I liked when the organization was a certain size and it's just no longer a good fit for me." Others wrestled through it more and it was a challenge, we had to find ... Because they were the right people, they believed in our mission and they were hard workers, so we were able to find a new position for them that was a better fit.
Rob: With growing two campuses, that was nice because then it allowed us to ... Once we started our Heber Campus, actually, we were able to, in a sense, it was almost like another start-up, a mini start-up within our organization because we had to get it off the ground, and start the food pantry, and the thrift store and a lot of other programs were starting from scratch in some ways.
Rob: So, by shifting things around and yes, re-clarifying people's positions, repositioning them in a position to better their skillset. And then by also, in addition, at the same time, bringing people on that did have skillsets in other areas that compensated for where maybe existing staff were weak.
Rob: That combination was what finally worked, but it was not easy. It was hard. There were some times, I remember some really tough staff meetings, some really difficult one-on-one conversations. You doubt yourself a lot. You're like, "Is this the right decision? Is this the right move?"
Rob: But as the best we could, getting as much advice as I could from our board. We have a great board, by the way, and a lot of our board members were ones who had built their own business or invested in companies that really scaled up, very large.
Rob: And so they had great experience in mentoring that they gave me and to our team, so I think all of those things helped along the way to move people into the right positions at the right time.
Rob: Yeah, to answer your question, we had a few exits, mostly luckily people that were just decided they'd leave on their own, and then others that found a new role within the organization that was a much better fit.
Michael: That's cool. Okay, so let's shift a little bit. I'm debating in my head on talking about this or not because the question I have is what is it about the work you do that drives you so much and why are you so passionate about it? I know it's a generic thing because nobody starts a nonprofit without having a burning desire to help somebody and fix something.
Michael: But I think connecting that, especially moving from organizational stuff to, "Are you like us?" You did all this stuff and everything else and you've had these hard conversations, but it sounds like you might be some cold-hearted corporate guy who [inaudible 00:15:06] that is in nonprofit. And you're not. I mean, there's a lot of compassion going on in your area. Talk about that. What got you into this business, this area into nonprofits and why have you stayed?
Rob: Yeah, that's actually a really good question too. Before I was in this role I was a faith leader, I was a pastor, actually, at multiple churches and so I always have had this real desire to serve people, to come alongside people with compassion, with grace, come alongside people that don't feel like they have a voice, come alongside people that feel marginalized, feel like they're not being served, their needs are not being met.
Rob: This whole passion is definitely who I've been wired to be and have done that in various roles up to this point. And then finding an organization where their primary mission to meet people at their point of need I'm like, "That's what I've tried to do my whole working life, my adult life," and so it was a perfect fit. Yes, that's my passion is to really try to come alongside and provide holistic care for those who would otherwise maybe fall through the cracks.
Rob: It's really ironic, COVID-19 really for across the country, but certainly here in Park City, exposed, I think, a lot of inequity and a lot of challenges that were already going on, but maybe they weren't at front and center for everybody. But when this pandemic hit it was very obvious where some people were just really falling behind, whether it be economically, job-wise, educationally, technology-wise.
Rob: And so a lot of people that we were serving to, those in our low income community here locally, we were here and we were poised and ready to go, whether it be through food, through rent assistance, through mental health counseling and a whole bunch of other services we were able to provide. That's what really motivates me personally, and now we've got an organization that is growing that can provide more of these resources to meet those needs.
Rob: You did say something really interesting. It is very important for us and one of our key values is to meet people [inaudible 00:17:02] as I mentioned, but to do it in a way to honor the dignity over everyone that we serve. And so compassion really is one of our key values.
Rob: There are times, as a leader, whether you're in a business or a nonprofit, there's decisions you have to make to say, "Okay, is this a cold-hearted corporate decision or this a compassionate led decision?" And we're not perfect by any stretch, but we try to always lean.
Rob: If we're going to err on a side, we're going to err on the side of compassion. We're going to err on the side of grace. We feel like we want to work with everybody as much as we can, internally in our staff, certainly because then if we're serving the people in the community with grace and compassion, we certainly need to treat our own staff that way.
Rob: We've been trying to do that along the way to make sure our values externally communicated are internally realities for how we treat each other here, both volunteers and staff. Yeah, that's what drives me a bit and we've tried to do that along the way as we've grown.
Michael: We've got a friend, one of Kathryn's best friends, overseas. She's the executive director of a nonprofit here in the area that works with the poor and homeless and stuff like that. Some really cool stuff. But she has been doing consulting before she took this job on, nationally with nonprofits for about 20 years. I don't know if you know Laura Cootsona or not, if you've ever run into her?
Rob: No, no. [crosstalk 00:18:21]
Michael: It's a small community in some respects. It's amazing how often organizations like yours and hers run into each other and communicate. But she has said all the time, "It's amazing now many nonprofits," and we deal with the same thing, "They don't realize that even though they're nonprofit, they need to make a profit." I mean, there has to be-
Kathryn: They actually have to have cash-
Michael: To pay the bills. Yeah.
Rob: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Michael: And it's amazing how may people don't understand that and it's amazing how many people who are running or leading a nonprofit struggle with that. How do you guys deal with just the financial pressures-
Kathryn: Yeah, the fundraising and all that fun stuff?
Rob: That is an ongoing struggle all the time, it really is, I think, particularly when it comes to programs that we know we want to provide, but if we don't have the funding, we can't provide certain programs. Here's a good example. We just finished actually, literally yesterday, we call the Back to School Basics Program. And in essence, we had about 800 kids participate this past week.
Rob: What it is, real short, many people know that when you start school if you don't feel good about your clothes, or yourself, or your self-image is already down and maybe you're comparing yourself with other kids, and you don't have the supplies that you need for school to start off right, then all of a sudden your learning experience is not as effective.
Rob: There's been a lot of studies on that, that if you have the right supplies and if you have ill-fitting clothes, or if you don't have shoes that fit, or you don't have clothes that really work. In here, Park City, it's winter, so if you don't have a coat or a hat and you're not warm and you're waiting at the bus, there's so many distractions that can keep you from your educational experience.
Rob: So our goal has been to provide this opportunity where, for 800 kids, we gave them $100 a person and we take them to the local outlets nearby. Why it's so important is you think, "Well, school supplies are important and clothes are important," but they're actually huge because think about it. When you were a kid where you wanted to start school, everyone had something new, whether it be new shoes or a new shirt or new pants-
Kathryn: First day of school outfit.
Rob: First day of school's a big deal, right? And we have a thrift store and we have a program where you could come any time and, if you're in need, you can come get whatever you want. We have some wonderful things at our thrift stores, and it can be free or it can be very reduced. I mean, $1, $2 for a shirt or whatever.
Rob: But there's something about picking out your own red Nikes, or your own shirt, or your own jeans it's the cool stores that we go to at the outlets, they give us extra discounts so that the price goes down even more, so their money goes even further. Then, thanks to the generosity of this community, we get backpacks and school supplies for all the kids that participate as well. Then early on we've gotten jackets, and hats, and gloves and boots to make sure they're ready for the school year.
Rob: Because around here again, around October it gets cold and so you're standing out in front of a bus line it gets cold, so you need that as well. So, all to say that is one our fun programs we're able to provide all this for kids and allow them to go shopping to build up their self-esteem and build up their dignity and, again, they can choose. There's something about choosing your own clothes.
Rob: Well, if we don't have money to provide for each one of these kids, we can't take out these kids to the outlets and we can't give them the opportunity to provide them with these school supplies. And so it's always about not the money itself, but it's the mission. Our goal is to help as many kids as possible, so let's raise as much money so we can serve as many kids as possible.
Rob: One other example would be, during COVID one of our big programs is called our Basic Needs Assistance Program and that's basically for people mostly for rent, but it could be a utility bill, a water bill, power bill. Obviously, with COVID-19 particularly in this ...
Rob: We're a resort-driven community here in Park City and Heber. The resort's shut down right away, all the restaurants pretty shut down, the hotels shut down, so this huge swath of people lost their jobs almost overnight. They couldn't pay their water bill. They couldn't pay their rent.
Rob: We were able to provide this fund, this Basic Needs Assistance fun and, I'd say, by the end of this month we'll have given out nearly $1 million worth of primarily rent assistance. Now, again, if we didn't raise the money we wouldn't be able to help all these people that otherwise would be evicted and potentially homeless, which now is a bigger issue.
Rob: I think it comes down to it's not about money per se, but it's about how much of an impact do you want to make? How many people do you want to serve? How many people do you want to really help? Well, it does take money to help them, so that's the motivation.
Rob: If that makes sense, that's how it's helped us to really stay mission-driven and look at the ultimate impact we want to make. Once we focus on that, then it's easier than to make it about, "Okay. Help fund this program. Help fund this ultimate outcome," rather than, "Hey, we just need money because we just need money because we're nonprofit." It's a mind shift change.
Michael: When you guys are looking for funds and doing your donation, A, what's been ... First question, what's been the biggest success as far as actually doing fundraising activity? What kind of fundraiser has been the most successful for you? And two, I would imagine based on the way you're talking, you connect the end results like, "Hey, we gave away 300 coats to elementary school kids," stuff like that. How do you continue to communicate that because that's one thing that we've seen a lot of is people who seem to be really good at raising the money can show the results and connect the dollar to the results?
Michael: First one is, most successful or the most popular fundraiser event you have and two, how do you connect the dots?
Rob: Yeah, that's so important with nonprofits, yeah. I think, for us, it's not even an event. The most successful we've been at fundraising has been personal relationships, connecting with the owners. It's building trust. It's inviting them to volunteer. It's going out to having lunch. It's going to a dinner. It's going to opportunities where you get to know these donors and they get to know you and that has been, honestly, the best.
Rob: Because once they really understand what you're doing and they get a sense of your heart and what you're trying to do, then they start building trust. I found the best way you can really grow your nonprofit is to build trust in your community. So what you say you're going to do, you'd better do it. That's another thing.
Rob: Then going to your second questions, yeah. To show the results of your program is so critical. The good news is I think there's so many technology ways you can do that, whether it be through Zoom, through social media, through having a video camera, doing a Facebook Live while you're doing an event, inviting people to be a part of things.
Rob: For example, we've invited people to come to our Goshute outreach events once a month. One of our big donors, we invited them one time to come to the tribe and we told the tribe, "Is it okay if we brought this wonderful donor? They've supported us for so many years to help us do all these things we've done with you," and they went, "Sure." So they came and they got to see first-hand what we were doing and they got to see beyond just our social media and beyond just our newsletters, they got to meet the Goshute Tribe and they got to hang out with our team.
Rob: It built so much trust and we've had no problem when we ask for more support year after year. They're like, "Oh, we know what you're doing. You've done a great job. We see the outcome and we want to continue to give to that." One other thing would be, again during COVID-19, this huge process of getting a million dollars to be basically handed out to those who needed rent assistance. So much of that was we needed to build trust too.
Rob: Number one, I had a lot of Zoom calls. I can't tell you how many Zoom calls I was on, just explaining the program and over and over, and who we are, and what our process is. For example, with our process we get audited every year and so whenever we give out money, whether it be for rent assistance, or utility bills or car repair they couldn't afford, we always seek to give it to the apartment manager, or we give it to the utility company, or we give it right to the mechanic who's fixing the car.
Rob: That's been our goal to do that and a lot of donors really enjoy that and are thankful for that, even though absolutely at some level, there's some nonprofits that give it straight to the person, to the individual. But we have a paper trail and really it turns into an audit trail, so the auditor when they come through every year, and just say, "Okay. Where did you spend all your money and what did you do with it?" We can literally show, "Here is the bill. Here's when we paid it and here's all the receipts and here's all the paper. Here you go. Boom."
Rob: It's all digital, of course, but we can show them exactly where this money went and that built tremendous trust during this time. I think that's why we were able to raise a million dollars, even in the midst of COVID-19, in addition to the other money that we were supported in our food pantry and other programs that we had.
Rob: So, building trust, building relationships, and showing the outcome and constantly being as transparent as you can be. That, to me, is the best combination that we found anyway.
Michael: Let me ask you a question based on that. One of the things ... Because I've seen that strategy before. It's even a discussion point sometimes where you give the money to the individual so that they can make the decisions on where their money should go, or do you give it to the utility, the manager or whatever.
Michael: One of the things that seems to come up in that conversations at times that is about giving the person money, one of the arguments is when you don't, you rob them of a certain dignity because they can't their bills. So now you're going off and paying their bills for them. You want to help them, but you want to help them, well, maintain dignity. But you guys chose the other path. Do you think you sacrificed their dignity and have you seen people less thankful for your help?
Rob: Boy, and that is a challenge. That's something we've discussed multiple times because you're right. That is the little bit of the rub there between we do want to honor people's dignity. At the same time, we want to make sure we're paying rent in a way that, at the end of the day, our auditor and our donors feel really good about where their money is going.
Rob: I think we've tried to find that middle ground where what we actually are doing, we're trying not to be a bill pay company, if you will. Like, "Okay, just come and say what your bills need to be paid and then we'll just write a check." So we work with the families as much as we can.
Rob: Now, COVID-19 is so unusual because we had such a huge amount. We had over 1000 people apply in just a couple of months period of time, so the volume was huge for us. But typically we have a case manager and a team that works with these families individually, and our typical process, and even with COVID we did the best we could where what we tried to do was come alongside to say, "What's your bill?"
Rob: The average rent here in Park City is $1200 approximately, so that's even for low income families. It's about $1200. Because the money that we raised, the max that we could give is $500, so we were not able to help the entire amount. One of the things that we did was we did support by writing these checks to, say, an apartment manager, but we came alongside them to give them other resources.
Rob: The dignity side came in to say, "Hey, this is not impossible. Let's help you figure out all the different opportunities and then the resource that are out there." Our goal was to really help empower them, if you will, to really step up for themselves, go speak to their landlord and say, "Hey, if I got 40% of the rent can that help me extend my time out?" Or, "Can I get a payment plan?"
Rob: And most people luckily, during COVID-19, they did work with us, the power companies and utility companies. But even in normal times that process of just giving them the sense that, "Yes. You can go talk to your landlord." For a lot of people are like, "No. I don't want to stir it up. I don't want to get in trouble," and like, "No, you can." So the empowerment of saying, "No, you can do this. We'll help you. We'll be an advocate for you and we're going to help pay for maybe half of your rent, but let's help you through that other ways where you can find these resources."
Rob: That's where the dignity side came in was just coming alongside them and encouraging them. And then the last piece was just helping them figure out a little bit of financial planning, as much as they were open to. Again, it's always up to them of how much they want to share, but we would talk about, "Okay. So if you have X amount of money in your income, here's all your bills, let's help you figure out a way. What would be the best way to manage your money?" But they make the decisions, right? That was on them to decide where I want to put the money.
Rob: Another opportunity that we give them alongside the rent assistance was our food pantry. One of the things we said, "Hey, if you're spending $300 a month on groceries, come to our food pantry. You can come twice a month and, within those two weeks, every two weeks, you can get pretty much all the food you need for the most part. Maybe not 100%, but close. You could save a lot of money every month by just coming to our food pantry. So, where else could you put that money?"
Rob: And so those kinds of things that our coach case manager and other staff members would do to work with families was trying to go back to your point of really honoring, "Hey, you can figure this out. You're smart. You're sharp. Here are some resources. Maybe you weren't aware of this. Maybe there was a language barrier. Let's help remove those barriers."
Rob: We saw our job as to remove barriers but, at the end of the day, to make sure that their bills were paid. That was the compromise, if you will, that we came to.
Kathryn: Yeah, that's really good. Yeah, that's good. Very helpful.
Kathryn: I'm so stunned by everything that you guys are doing. It's just this massive amount of support and services that you're providing. It's a very, very cool-
Michael: It's really neat, huh?
Kathryn: Yeah. We were talking earlier and I don't necessarily want to spend a ton of time on this, but you had said the COVID stuff really highlighted some of the inequity in terms of the economic disparity, which in a resort town is going to be amplified. Right? Where you've got the super wealthy that have all their second homes, and then you've got the people who are supporting the resort industry and the services [inaudible 00:31:37].
Kathryn: It has just been such an interesting journey because those folks, they just lost their jobs. You're right. There's nothing they could have done about that. So, this forced shutdown has had such a profound impact, I think, on just how resort towns are functioning and not knowing what the future is. Those ongoing predictions of, "Well, we just have to get through June. We just have to get through July," and then it just seems to keep going on.
Kathryn: Talk to us just briefly, as we start to wrap-up, about just the mental health piece of that and how people are managing and how you guys are able to maybe help in that place because I would imagine there's just a ton of profound discouragement. Talk about that.
Rob: You are so right. We have found, with our mental health counseling, as I mentioned earlier, I think we have about 16 now on staff that deal in some way with our mental health counseling services. We have definitely seen a huge uptick in need for mental health. In some ways it was really good that the stigma has been somewhat removed. I still think there's work to be done, but a lot of people at least are reaching out to counselors, but there's no doubt. You nailed it.
Rob: I think with all the uncertainty, the social isolation that was forced on all of us, many people have lost their jobs. They had no choice because their company was shut down, everyone just shut down so there was not a choice. So just feeling out of control that things are happening to you that you cannot control. You put all that together and if you had ...
Rob: All of us have a little bit of anxiety and a little bit of depression at times, right? There's normal amounts. But then there's people that really struggle with clinical depression or clinical anxiety, and these kinds of things put pressure on all of us. Those who deal with clinical depression or clinical anxiety, it's gone to a whole nother level to the point where they're not sure what to do.
Rob: The rates of suicide ideation, in other words, where people are really thinking about it, considering and already have a plan of how they want to commit suicide, has just, according to our counselors, every day, if not multiple times a day, they will have people calling about that very issue.
Rob: It's not like, "Hey, maybe in two weeks we can get together." "No, I'm thinking about ending my life, maybe hurting others in the process." That's a regular thing they're dealing with every day, a crisis at that level. So we have seen a huge uptick in need for mental health and education, and then just making sure resources are there. All of our counselors are just overwhelmed a bit.
Rob: We have an APRN, we have someone who can manage medication and, obviously, with people that used to be able to afford their medication, they lost their job, they lost their insurance and now they can't afford their counseling, let alone their medicine.
Rob: There's been a real crisis and I think you're right because we're not sure when this is going to be over. I think the mental health crisis in our country is actually going to continue even, say, if people are able to stay in their homes. And there's been some great movement federally as well as state by state where a lot of people are giving a little bit more room and forgiveness for rent so that no one's getting evicted.
Rob: We've tried to do that here locally. Of course, work with landlords because I know they have their bills to pay as a landlord, they've have obligations. So by trying to address it holistically it's been, I think, okay. But the mental health issue I think is going to be the bigger issue, not just now but will continue for the next three or four months, if not into the next year.
Rob: That is a big concern. I think where you are, where you live, I'm sure you're facing it as well. I think it's something that I wish we had a little bit more of a national conversation because we've certainly talked about rent evictions. We've talked about food. We've talked about racial inequity, all good conversations, all important. But I would love to have even a broader national conversation about mental health and mental illness and just the things we're facing.
Rob: Because at least what we're seeing, where we're sitting here in Park City and throughout Utah, it's just off the charts and I don't see any end in the near future, so it's a challenge.
Michael: As we're wrapping and moving towards wrapping up this interview today, we've got a few more minutes, I want to hear ... You're fun to listen to and you're fun to talk to because you're so passionate about what's going on. Clearly there's a lot of great things, but let's shift towards I would like you to speak a little bit to other leaders of nonprofits.
Michael: I'm pretty sure that folks, anybody who's listening, if you're not a nonprofit leader listen anyway because this is going to apply to you as a leader-
Kathryn: If we still have you.
Rob: [crosstalk 00:36:06] business leaders, yeah. Entrepreneurs.
Michael: But when it comes to what it looks like to be a leader, and this is where I want you to think about and speak to what you've experienced yourself. How do you maintain, in the midst of all the things a nonprofit has to do, the marriage, the kids, your own mental health, what are the struggles and challenges, and what's the advice you have to folks, especially as you do leadership development and coaching and things like that?
Michael: But what do you struggle with, first? Where are those places that you've had to really deal with? And then what are some of the ways that you've dealt with them?
Rob: Oh, what a great question and yeah. This doesn't matter. If you're a for-profit sector or the nonprofit sector, I mean, leadership is across the board, right? I've forgotten the exact off the hand if it was just one or two authors or maybe a series of authors, but I remember this concept of 360 degrees of leadership. In other words, every dimension of leadership and that means you lead up, leading down, leading with your peers across, but the most important aspect of leadership is self-leadership.
Rob: That was driven into me early on in my career and that has been probably one of the best series of advice that I've received was this idea of if you're going to be any kind of sustainable leader, a good leader, a long-term leader, you better make sure there's some good self-leadership going on in your life because that's where it begins and that's where it ends.
Rob: Oftentimes, we see it with great leaders of big companies that, at one time, were just cranking and doing great things, maybe making lots of money or doing great things out in the community and the world. And then, all of a sudden, something is self-sabotaged in their own life and then everything starts unraveling. But it starts with your self-leadership.
Rob: By the way, this is a daily thing. I have not arrived. I mean, this is something I'm working on all the time. But that is going to your question, what has helped me is making sure I'm doing as much as I can to not ever forget that self-leadership, leading internally, if you will, is the starting point of being a good leader.
Rob: That, for me, just for practically, making sure I'm taking care of myself physically, spiritually. My faith is a big part of who I am and making sure that spiritually I'm very strong and finding resources and things to help feed my soul, so to speak. Making sure I'm connected in community. Making sure I'm connecting with my family.
Rob: My wife is the director of our counseling center and so we're both very driven people, Type A personalities, and so making sure we have time together, making sure we have ... One of the things I'm trying to do is create more finish lines. Again, it was from one of the books I read on leadership one time. You need to come up with more finish lines in your day, in your week, in your month, maybe half a year, six months and then a year.
Rob: Finish lines meaning, you need to come to a point where you are done with work, so in a day, I don't know. Everyone's a little different. Maybe it's at 6:00, maybe it's at 8:00, maybe it's at 10:00, but sometime you finally say, "Okay, I'm done." Have some kind of finish line every day, every week where you can say, "I am done." Turn your phone off, turn your computer off and say you can't respond any more, those kinds of things of just self-care is really important.
Rob: Then, of course, I run a podcast, I host podcasts, as you say, I listen to podcasts all the time, so I'm always trying to learn. And so a big part of my self-leadership is learning from other leaders who are better than me and have lived longer than me, have led longer than me and so learning all the time.
Rob: I feel like I'm a lifelong learner and so self-care is one of those pieces where learn from other people that seem like they've made it, they've done it, they've kept their family fairly intact. They've kept their business going pretty well. They've kept their nonprofit going. What's their secret? Learn from them. That's the kind of things that I'm trying to do so that I can hopefully be in this position, in continuing to lead and help other people lead, for a long time.
Kathryn: That's really good. Yeah, we talk about the inner game and the outer game, right?
Rob: I like it, yeah.
Kathryn: That's not ours. That's from Circle, from Mastering Leadership. I'm going to find the book in my head, but that's-
Michael: It's in there somewhere. It'll be in the footnotes.
Rob: Somebody said it.
Kathryn: Somebody said. Somebody really ... But yeah, that concept of so much of leadership is if you think of the iceberg, so much of it is under the water, right, it's just people can't ... It's that inner game and making sure that you're growing and not sabotaging and being aware when something happens that you're pausing and going, "Why did I react that way? What's actually happening?" So I love that constant growth and learning, as well as just really understanding what makes you tick and how do you care for yourself and what triggers you? Some of that stuff is good.
Michael: Well, I like articulating the finish line. That finish line metaphor is good because that's ... I mean, if you continue to just drag it through everything. Spouses are great at spotting you're paying too much time, you're spending too much time on that and not enough time on me.
Rob: Yeah, very much.
Michael: But kids are way better in my experience, or at least they're more vocal about it.
Kathryn: Especially if they have parents that work in the same company. [inaudible 00:41:18] together, then the kid's very vocal.
Michael: Okay, so you're talking about work again.
Rob: I know some counselors that we could pass on your way if you need [inaudible 00:41:28]. We have a counseling center here if you need any extra counseling.
Michael: We'll just commute.
Rob: Well, that's why I married a counselor, a therapist. I'm in full-time counseling because my wife's a therapist. It helps very much.
Kathryn: Here you go. [inaudible 00:41:43].
Michael: Well, Rob, thank you so much for being with us today.
Rob: You bet.
Michael: This is really great to hear and it's great to be able to expose our folks to more things that are going on in the nonprofit community. I know that even the folks that are in for-profit businesses, most of the people we know are involved in nonprofits, care about nonprofits. And so if there's anybody listening who wants to know more about your organization and what you're doing out there, how can they find out, besides our show notes?
Rob: Yeah, yeah. Two ways. For my organization I lead here in Park City it's go to our website, CCOFPC.org or just look up Christian Center Park City. Then my Nonprofit Leadership Podcast, just type that in, Nonprofit Leadership Podcast, and it should show up in Spotify or iTunes or online. So yeah, we'd encourage you to check it out and my hope is there principles like you two shared with us that are applicable to both the for-profit and nonprofit sector.
Michael: Yeah, and we'll have those links on our show notes page also, so again, thank you very much. Appreciate your time today. Everybody else, I hope you got something out of today. If it wasn't fully riveting to you and you weren't being pulled in, you choose to think, "Okay, how does this apply to either what I'm doing at our own company and leading our own organization or the nonprofits that you're involved in. What is it that can happen? How do you meet people where their needs are?"
Michael: I love that concept and we talk about it a lot in the organizations Kathryn and I are involved in. It's the same principle, meeting people where their needs are and then figure out how do you connect that? There's a huge piece, a huge bridge for connecting the evidence of what you're doing with the money you're raising to the donors. Because people, those of us who have money and want to donate, we want to give to a good cause because there's more good causes than we have money to give.
Kathryn: Yeah. There's a lot of options out there, so certainly showing what it is that is happening in this organization that makes it what I want to give to.
Michael: And just because the heart is right doesn't mean it's easy to get people to donate money. So being able to communicate that build relationships, remembering those things Rob said, and then connecting the dots, so going, "Here's what's happening. Here's where we're making the results. Here's what needs are being met," and I like the idea of that kind of accountability that they've built.
Michael: Especially, Rob, when you were talking about not only meeting the needs, but dealing with the auditors and everything else. There is a win-win there. Well, thank you so much for sharing that. We hope you found today's episode enjoyable. Check out all the information on our show notes and, again, we hope that you are surviving and thriving in the midst of this COVID time. And if you're not, anything that we can do to offer help, please contact us just as an encouragement, or educational resources or anything like that.
Michael: You can go to habovillage.com or halfabubbleout.com.
Kathryn: That's us.
Michael: That's us. So, thanks for joining us on HaBO Village Podcast. I'm Michael Redman-
Kathryn: And I'm Kathryn Redman.
Michael: ... have a great week.