Center for Community
Sometimes a single idea can snowball into a multi-faceted reality. Take the Center for Community (CFC) for example. Back in 1979 a group of concerned parents formed CFC, a non-profit agency that provided the Sitka community early learning programs for developmentally challenged young children. The programs worked with parents whose children from birth to three years had developmental delays, to assess their needs and find professional therapy that worked for them. Today, more than 30 years later, CFC reaches further into the community by offering expanded supportive services for Alaskans of every age with disabilities, whether those disabilities are physical, intellectual or even financial. "We do in-home care for people with physical disabilities. That can include everything from the basics, like hygiene assistance and chores, to shopping and running other errands. We also provide respite care to give primary caregivers some personal time to themselves," said CFC Executive Director Connie Sipe. CFC also offers "Welfare to Work" counseling, helping Alaskans transition from public assistance to the workforce through job search assistance and placement. To top it all off, the agency runs Sitka's public transit service, for which they contract out the actual driving. Not only do they provide three fixed bus routes around town five days a week, they run a para-transit service as well, which includes door-to-door pick-up and drop-off service for residents who can't physically walk to a bus stop. "People always say, 'Now I know why you're called the Center for Community!'" But CFC's services aren't offered solely in the Sitka community. The organization reaches communities throughout most of Southeast Alaska and even has divisions in Anchorage and Juneau, called COMPASS Homecare. Around the state, CFC employs more than 120 full and part-time workers. About 40 of them work in Sitka, where CFC's administrative headquarters are located. "We have clients and workers in Southeast from Yakutat to Ketchikan, on Prince of Wales Island and in many other small villages." With employees living and working in such diverse locations, making payroll using paper checks can be a logistical challenge for several reasons. First, weather in Southeast Alaska can be unpredictable, making flight service sometimes difficult if not impossible to many of the small villages where CFC clients and employees live. Plus, mail service runs out of Sitka Monday through Friday only. To outsmart the weather and work around the limited mail services, CFC employs First National's direct deposit payroll service, allowing the agency to electronically distribute employee pay directly into employee bank accounts. It also provides peace-of-mind for CFC staff. "If we send checks in the mail we can't guarantee when they're going to get there. With direct deposit payroll we can track the funds and the transaction is virtually immediate. Plus many villages don't have banks, so using direct deposit cuts out the hassle for employees of having to find a place to cash or deposit their paychecks." Sipe says on top of helping to resolve delivery issues, direct deposit payroll allows CFC to help employees in other ways. "As a company that supports our workers, sometimes we'll give pay advances for family emergencies. Direct deposit allows us to get them their emergency funds quickly." As a non-profit agency, CFC operates on a tight budget. With 73 of more than 120 employees signed up for direct deposit payroll, the time it takes to do payroll every month is cut down significantly. Reduced printing, envelope stuffing and rushing to get checks mailed allows administrative staff the opportunity to focus more on other aspects of the organization. By using direct deposit payroll CFC can better support its employees, who then can better support Alaskans in need of support to live independently in their homes and communities. And that's truly what it's all about.
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