We're between the devil and the deep blue sea . . . Here's the story: Four years ago, the idea to create a virtual showcase room as the crown jewel for the hospital was born. Because of my education background, the missing link for me had always been our inability to meet at any given time with large numbers of employees, community members, patients, or supporters. We could hold about 50 or so in our largest room, but had no place to have a larger meeting on campus.
Because of that, we held our Showcase for Biotech in downtown Johnstown, and no one got to visit our research center as part of the program. We had ideas for a kids fitness center for diabetes control and obesity, a center for spiritual healing services, for meeting with half of our employees at any given time, for holding special classes and workshops, and for education. There were also plans to use it for a meeting place for our physicians and for support groups.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, the idea really got very little traction from donors or potential donors. As the years wore on, it seemed more and more hopeless. Then, we decided to turn it into a project that could be funded through grants, and we began turning over rocks in every area, and found grants of $240 K here and $100 K there, another $150 K from donations a commitment for $100 K more until we reached the last $100 K needed to kick off the project. We had business plans to support the facility, drawings, and even held a ground breaking.
Then the mortgage crisis hit, and bonding for contractors became a precious commodity. The low bidder did not receive the total bond needed to ensure safety for the hospital's investment, and the project went on hold. Because that bidder came in at about $700 K, and could not get his bond, we were forced to go to the next lowest bidder who was approximately $250 K higher than the original low bid. Back to the drawing board.
We asked them to lower the project cost, and they couldn't. Consequently, we cut 1/3 of the project, the meditation room, the walkway, the dividing section, over 1/3 of the space and, guess what? Because materials have escalated so dramatically in the past six months, that contractor came back at almost exactly the same price. Not only was it the same price, because the material continue to go up so rapidly, they could only give us 7 days to hold the bid.
So, we went to another construction company. and they came in about $30K higher than the second bidder.
Once again, back to square one. I had a commitment from a donor for another $100 K but they had to back out because they weren't able to sell a commercial building that would have funded the donation. Then, we got an additional $100K, and the promise of more from another government source.
So, the predicament we are in is that, if we don't do the project, we send all of the money back, including money we have already spent on architects. More importantly, there will be little to no hope for future funds from any of these sources. Consequently, I sit here frustrated once again, with soggy corn flakes, wondering what the next steps will be.
So, there you have it. To jump or not to jump . . . based on faith, hope and charity? That's the way it works in non profits.
Since posting this blog, one of our donors accelerated their donation and applied it to this project. Work starts this week!!!