Kirkpatrick Leaves Family House After More Than 7 Years

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Dear SECU Family House friends,

As 2012 closes out, I can’t help but reflect with pride and love on all that SECU Family House has accomplished in just under five years: 114,000 guest stays provided to families from all 100 of North Carolina’s counties, 35 states, and 8 foreign countries; a House that has operated without debt since it opened; and a home that our guests consistently describe as a lifeline—a refuge, a sanctuary, a Godsend—in a time of crisis.

Friends, after more than 7 years with SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals, I have stepped down as executive director, with my last day served as December 31, 2012. This is a good time for me to move back into nonprofit consulting in the Triangle and, perhaps, across the state and beyond.

It’s also a good time for the organization. I leave its administration to a strong and stable staff. Janice Ross, whom most of you know in her role as house manager, will serve as interim executive director while the board conducts its search for a replacement. I will serve as a consultant to the board and staff as needed beyond the end of the year so as to effect a seamless transition. I also leave the organization in excellent financial condition, with no debt, an operating reserve, and a generous endowment.

This is an important juncture for the House. We need to expand our footprint. We continue to explore the possibility of engaging in a campaign to raise the money necessary to expand and add 20-26 bedrooms. For two years now, we have turned away 60% of the families who are referred to us by UNC Hospitals, matching them up instead with one of our local hotel partners that offer them very generous discounts.

We are in a position to succeed in a campaign. A bit of history provides some context:

• After the SECU Foundation made its $2M challenge grant in 2005, I was hired to raise what the Board believed to be the final $2M of a $5M capital campaign. We realized early on that $5M would not get us the building that many of the founders had envisioned and helped to design. Long story short: three successive Boards, a steering committee and I worked together to secure an additional $5.1M ($8.1M cumulatively) in gifts and brought a long-held dream to fruition. The House, as it now stands, thrives—and, as you know, provides refuge, comfort, food, shelter, and hope to thousands of guests each year.
• We assumed ownership of the House with no debt, a $1M endowment, and $400,000 in operating reserves.
• In our first five years of operations, we have built up an additional $500,000 for a capital replacements fund from operating surpluses. This fund provides a buffer against the sudden need to replace big ticket capital items.

Since our doors opened, we have benefited from tremendous community support and strong leadership: I have worked closely with seven of the best board presidents I could imagine, from Mike Maxwell at the start to Jim Copeland, and in between enjoyed the support and encouragement of presidents Matt Hapgood, Mark Zack, Katie Early, Tom Shea, and Dana McMahan.

I have seen many similar hospitality houses across the country, but I have yet to see one that is as beautiful as SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals.

More importantly, I have never stood in one that I knew to be as invested with the depth of love and support that I witness from our volunteers and staff every day of the year. Of all the many gifts I take away from this incredible experience, I treasure most the various gifts of self (and selflessness) that I regularly witness from our volunteers and our guests. With their affection, gratitude, and generosity of spirit, patients and guests have taught me to be more patient, more loving, and more joyful—lessons one could wait a lifetime to learn.

With continuing gratitude and great affection,



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