Worcester Business Journal

WBJ 11-21-16

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We are hearing some amazing stories of what they learned when they came here, the friendships they made and how this has impacted them. What has the response to the campaign been like? We went to those we were confident would support us, and we asked them to stretch. We don't run a capital campaign very often – the last campaign was 30 years ago – so we asked them to give in a meaningful way. You have been doing this private portion of the fundraising campaign since June 2015. How much do you have to raise in the public portion now? $2.5 million. When do you need it by? Our co-chairs have given us a drop- dead date of October 2017, so we have a lot of work to do in the next year. How does your renovation help Worcester's economic development? We are in the Union Hill/Vernon Hill area of Worcester, which has been defined as the sixth most distressed area in the state of Massachusetts. We feel this is an anchor site right in the middle of this neighborhood. By ren- ovating and putting in that heating and cooling, we can become a better neigh- borhood resource. Also, we are happy to create opportuni- ties for neighborhood girls to come to Girls Inc. What are those opportunities? The mission of Girls Inc. is to help all girls be smart, strong and bold. We define those as strong being healthy, smart being educated, and bold being as independent. How do volunteers help you accom- plish those goals? We have 600 volunteers a year. We couldn't do it without them. We only have 10 full-time staff, so we are very depen- dent on our volunteers. I n October, Girls Inc. of Worcester launched the public part of its $5.5-million fundraising campaign. The effort coincided with the 100- year anniversary of the organization known as the Girls Club for its first 75 years. The renovations are largely behind the scenes, such as to the heating and cool- ing system, so the nonprofit can use the entire facility throughout the year. How did you decided how much money you needed? We considered three questions: No. 1 – In 2016 and beyond, what do we want our programs and growth to look like? No. 2 –What do the buildings and grounds need to look like to achieve that? No. 3 – What resources do we need to get there? The building was built in 1953, and it has had some challenges over the years. It is always difficult to maintain a building of this size, especially as a nonprofit with limited resources. What is being done with the money? $5.5 million is a very conservative ren- ovation to the building. It is bringing it up to code and making changes so we can have a first-class workforce, provide work areas where our staff can thrive for the next 100 years. What is the first thing being done? It was very clear the pool roof was the most urgent need. Swimming is a very integral part of the Girls Inc. experience, and we wanted to just shut that down once in the course of the renovation and get that behind us. The new pool wing includes a new roof, a new gunite pool, new deck wall and also locker room renovations. What's next? What is next are renovations in the building that you won't see, but you will feel the difference. We need a new roof on the rest of the building. We need to fix the drainage problems in the basement. A couple of weeks ago when there was heavy rain, we had the equivalent of another pool in our basement. Correcting those problems will add to the sustain- ability of the building. How do you raise $5.5 million? We started with private foundations and looking at family foundation who are active in funding capital needs. We are looking at corporations and foundations that fund program growth, especially those corporate strategic directions. Private individuals are our supporters. Among those are your alumni, right? We had an exciting time of finding our alumni. We have had a lot of girls come through here in 100 years. The fun part has been trying to find them and look through our history. We have had a couple of reunions, and we will have a couple more. S H O P TA L K Q & A Girls Inc. soliciting $5.5M for renovations This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by Brad Kane, WBJ editor. Go to WBJournal.com to watch video clips from Waterman's Shop Talk interview. On WBJournal.com AGE: 53 BIRTHPLACE: Providence, R.I. RESIDENCE: North Smithfield, R.I. EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in business administration, with concentration in marketing, Bryant University Victoria Waterman CEO, Girls Inc. of Worcester P H O T O / B R A D K A N E W 30 Worcester Business Journal | November 21, 2016 | wbjournal.com

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