JCHAI - Judith Creed Horizons for Achieving Independence
"It's so much easier now!"
The Judith Creed Horizons for Achieving Independence manages three residential sites, an independent supportive living apartment program, and home- and community-based services for individuals in the Philadelphia area with intellectual disabilities, autism and traumatic brain injury. Founded in 1987 by concerned family members worried about the future welfare of their loved ones, JCHAI programs create a compassionate community environment. The organization encourages growth, independence and enhanced quality of life for persons with special needs, and sees ongoing inspirational results.
When Stacy Jarett Levitan moved from being JCHAI’s Board Chair to being its Executive Director, she realized that a change was needed in the accounting processes. She was already quite familiar with the organization and its mission – her brother, Doug Jarett, is a resident. But the financial systems clearly needed reworking and that was beyond her expertise.
“I’m a lawyer, and a bit of a perfectionist, but although I love working with numbers I’m no accountant, that’s for sure!” she animatedly says in her office in Bala Cynwyd. “When JCHAI got started, it was seen pretty much as a small family organization, which was a nice thing, and our finances were run that way as well. Back then, our accounting didn’t need to be all that sophisticated. We were audited every year, everything was okay, and our finances didn’t need to be complex.”
But as JCHAI grew, its accounting needs were indeed becoming more complex, plus the state and federal agencies to which it reports were demanding ever-more detailed cost reports. “It was becoming more and more difficult for me to deliver the information everyone needed with our kind of accounting,” she says.
Levitan had met YPTC President and Founder Eric Fraint at a Nonprofit Institute training seminar. “I had tucked away in the back of my mind the idea of outsourced controller services. And then one day I saw YPTC’s website with the promotion about how they help nonprofit executives sleep at night, and I realized this was just what we needed. I had been worrying myself to death!”
YPTC associates began working with JCHAI to make its accounting and reporting systems more sophisticated, and today Corey Blum is JCHAI’s liaison. “I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have Corey!” she exclaims. “He is just amazing. Our books are so well-organized, and he’s so helpful. I used to have to block out several days to do my census reports, but what used to take hours now takes only a half-hour. It’s so much easier now. And this is the first year that I’ve done my government cost reports where I haven’t been awake every night.”
Blum has helped JCHAI to rework its bookkeeping, redesign spreadsheets, and even change its fiscal year. “I present reports to my board now and they say, ‘Wow! We’ve never had reports like this before.’ They’re bowled over. I feel confident about how we’re doing. We’re doing things I never dreamed we’d be able to do.”
Levitan recognizes that the decision to engage an outsourced controller isn’t an easy one. “It was a big financial commitment. But I’m so glad we found Your Part-Time Controller. We couldn’t have been able to get through what we needed to get through in the last three years without them,” she says. “It isn’t even a question.”