By BERNADETTE LAURITZEN
The pandemic has taught me a lot as a mom and as the leader of a local business. I just celebrated two years as executive director of the Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization (LARSO). This local non-profit runs the senior centers in Los Alamos and White Rock.
After the first year I was dismayed to see that for many years we have been unable to fund wage increases for staff.
Last year I had great plans for additional fundraisers to add to the annual Festival of Trees event. Sadly, none of them had the opportunity to take place. Our online Festival of Trees event is one that helps toward the goal of increasing our bottom line. We always hope it will push us from operating in the red to operating in the black.
This fiscal year we have been pushed way past our state funding … a very rare occasion that will have us dipping into our reserve funding to make ends meet. Don’t worry, as an entity that receives state funding, we are required to have additional operating reserves for emergencies, like a global pandemic.
So for Older Americans Month, I would like to attempt a first-time goal for this organization. This month I would like to attempt a fundraiser that will benefit employees and help us to create a strategic plan for working to benefit employees financially. My staff has worked harder while we’ve been closed than when we are open. Now with our re-opening things won’t slow down.
The national Older Americans Month theme for 2021 is, “Communities of Strength”. Senior centers across the state have stepped up and stepped out to keep New Mexico seniors safe. We have done grocery shopping, picked up prescriptions, run errands, delivered supplies, food boxes and library books. Our home delivered meal list has doubled and we hope for our drive through lunches to continue for a little longer.
My hope is that if you are looking to make a donation, that you might consider one to help employees. If you would like to help staff, just put STAFF in the memo line. We do try to offer good benefits to increase the value of being employed with LARSO.
My reflection of the last year has forced me to wait no longer to begin strategic planning for salaries. Soon, we will need to hire new employees as we continue our graduated approach in re-opening, and wages are an important factor.
All donation checks must be made to LARSO, but you can direct funds to any area of programming. The most helpful donations are not directed but just general. This allows the finance team to direct funds as needed for the business. We also thank those who have donated to our, “Senior Services” efforts. We have assisted with food, medication and additional needs for local seniors in need during this pandemic.
We thank you for your support. Donations also may be made to help LARSO though the Los Alamos Community Foundation at www.losalamoscf.org.