FARMINGTON —Lisa Park Laflin of New Vineyard always wanted to help others learn when she was young by following her parents’ example.
She was Executive Director of United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, which serves the greater Franklin County area, for 13 years.
Laflin says she “oversees the strategic direction of the organization and all aspects of the organization’s mission to improve people’s lives.”
She takes great pride in the fact that the organization helps support 211 – a 24/7 helpline that connects callers to local resources. The information can also be texted to people if they send their zip code to 898-211 or is viewed on the newly designed website at 211main.org. More than 90,000 calls have been received regarding the pandemic alone. This was in addition to all the calls for help with utility payments, mental health resources, rental assistance, and assistance with fuel and housing, she wrote in a report. e-mail as part of this interview.
“I’m also very proud to be an organization that provides students and volunteers with really solid opportunities to learn more about the non-profit sector and their interests such as community health, rehabilitation or marketing,” Laflin wrote.
In her spare time, she reuses furniture and recycles almost everything. She and her husband, Brent, have built a tiny house on their property from recycled materials and are currently renting it out to people through a site called hipcamp.com.
Why have you pursued a career that helps others? I have always enjoyed helping others and my interest was really encouraged by my parents when I was very young. My parents were very involved in the community and it always felt very natural to give back. My formal education is in English and Art History and I turned to jobs where I could not only use the skills I had learned but also jobs where I could be immersed in community work and do a difference. I’m not sure I made the conscious choice to pursue a career that helps others, but I feel like my different careers have chosen me.
Is it difficult to organize everything that you think needs to be done? Certain days can be overwhelming. There is so much to do on a daily basis but also on a strategic, long-term basis. I am fortunate to have a great team that helps organize all aspects of the work we do, as well as a committed Board of Directors and fantastic volunteers. I’m the type of person who takes great satisfaction in sorting their Tupperware drawer so that all the lids match. I always have to-do lists ready to be ticked off on the kitchen island; files on my phone that I can usually access when I need them; and Christmas gifts in a closet ready to go in July! I like to be organized and organized, so the job is fine for me. Having said that, we are a small but powerful organization serving all of Franklin County as well as Livermore and Livermore Falls. That’s 40,000 people from the Canadian border to the outskirts of Lewiston served by the three employees, so we can ALWAYS use more help.
How much money is collected on average and how much is dispersed? United Way of the Tri-Valley Area collects on average nearly half a million dollars a year in cash, which includes individual donations, contributions to workplace campaigns, grants, corporate gifts and special event income. In addition, we report back to the community how much was collected in goods and in-kind services (such as the contribution of a backpack and school supplies or an auction item) as well as the value of the volunteer service. On average, an additional quarter of a million dollars is generated in goods and services and volunteer time. 99% of every dollar donated stays local and is reinvested in our community.
We are currently funding 14 community partners ranging from Safe Voices and Sexual Assault Prevention and Intervention Services to Meals on Wheels and Literacy Volunteers. Last year, we distributed just over $ 100,000 in Very Basics Fund allocations to support 39 programs.
Centraide’s significant impact is not fully visible in the direct disbursement of dollars. For example, we recently ended a successful tax season in which we prepared over 400 tax returns and put people in touch with tax credits and community resources. Over $ 517,000 in credits and refunds were obtained.
What do you personally get out of your job other than a salary? The satisfaction of helping individuals and organizations to thrive and to work collaboratively with amazing people is very satisfying. I grew up in this community, and helping to make it the place where I, my family and others want to live is also important to me. I’m also continually learning a lot about myself, the needs of the community, and how to successfully create positive change. The work I do is never static and keeps me engaged.
Is there a particular memory of helping someone or an organization in need that comes to your mind? There are so many memories that it’s hard to focus on just one. One is the creation of the HOPE Fund, which expanded the Centraide model to be able to help young people 17 and under with up to $ 200 so they could attend a summer camp, take education courses. therapeutic riding or enrolling in football or other sports. . . . Sometimes it’s not the big picture that gives me lasting memories. Sometimes it’s looking back on the ability to listen and give hope to those in difficult circumstances. I think of the couple to whom I gave professional clothes and who were at the homeless shelter. They were leaving the shelter and looking for a job, having achieved their goals and were so proud and happy to be on the road to financial security.
Have you set goals for yourself and the organization to accomplish? Yes. In order to most effectively invest our resources to be the most impactful organization possible, the board of directors of United Way of the Tri-Valley Area recently approved a new strategic plan. This will be shared in detail with our community partners, nonprofits and donors in the coming months. The main objectives are: to increase mobility with a focus on increasing transport options; increase financial stability by funding programs that prepare adolescents and young adults for the financial realities of their transition to the workforce or to post-secondary education; collaborate with organizations to develop financial literacy and improve employability and marketing skills among youth and adults; and fund programs that arouse the aspirations of young people.
COVID-19 has also spread new words, phrases