I knew exactly what I wanted from the Fireball Foundation from the moment I jotted notes down on a piece of paper the day after my grandfather died. We simply wanted to provide unbiased information on nursing homes to anyone who needed it. My family had gotten screwed during our ordeals with various care facilities in Morgantown and we didn’t want anyone else to have the same experience.
The ‘big idea’ that would drive the charity forward would be the development of a Consumers’ Report style report on nursing homes in the 26505 zip code, then a report on nursing homes in the 25801 zip code (that’s Beckley where I grew up) and if everything went well our foundation would create or partner with others to create reports for every municipality in the United States, then Australia and possibly the UK. But, something happened on the way to creating the foundation’s discussion deck for the governor – the US Government beat us to the punch. They released a 5 star rating system on all nursing homes in the US. It went public in December 2008.
Yes, it isn’t perfect and those getting bad ratings are complaining that it’s unfair, but the the USG launch took the wind away from my sails. Don’t get me wrong, the fulfillment of the big picture is great, but in little over an hour on Christmas Eve 2008 the entire concept of the foundation got devalued. I heard the old Hearing Concern (my old UK Charity) donor arguments – why do I need to give to this cause, doesn’t the government already do something like this?
All of our 1023 documentation focused on a pilot project in Morgantown for this report. I was left feeling empty and lost. It didn’t go away the next morning after a restless night. Nor did it go away a week later when I returned to the US from Australia and started building the website. Frankly, it really hasn’t went away to this moment but its getting better.
I learned during my grad school work that sometimes one doesn’t have the answer in the beginning and that the best approach is to start asking questions until there’s enough dots to connect. The federal government’s involvement didn’t change a great deal for care givers and those who have dementia. It just clouded what looked like really blue waters for the charities revenue growth.
So, on Friday I get to talk to my old boss at the YMCA who is now working with another organization to see what she thinks. It’s an easy starting point because we get along well and it’s a personal contact. Hopefully she can give some insights and a few people to contact.
My first question to her – So what do you think?