The Organization

Catholic Family Services (CFS) of Hamilton is a multi-service agency that has served the Hamilton and Burlington communities since 1944. Their tagline, “Helping Make Life Better”, is reflected in the work they do with and for some of their community’s most vulnerable members.

As a multi-service agency, Catholic Family Services of Hamilton looks for gaps in services, and creates programs to fill those needs. CFS offers a range of programs that allows their clients to move between programs, providing continuity of care, all under one roof.

The challenge

CFS operated out of a rented facility which was in very poor repair, and which they had outgrown. That, coupled with costs associated with rent and building expenses, led the organization’s leadership to consider other options. They wanted to purchase their own building in a safer neighbourhood which would add to their assets and grow their client base without increasing costs. It would also help them to create a welcoming home for their many client groups. The seed for change had been planted, though they didn’t yet have the capital to allocate.

The opportunity

An old school building in a prime community location became available. An initial review of the numbers told senior management that the cost of acquiring and renovating the building would be less than the monthly rent and upkeep of their current building. This purchase would allow CFS to repurpose an important community asset, improve their community facility and, additionally, allow them to partner with an important sister agency, Rygiel Supports for Community Living, an organization interested in purchasing a piece of the school board property and sharing services and infrastructure, a win win for both organizations.

How CFF helped

Around the time of this initial exploration, the Community Forward Fund delivered a workshop to a number of Hamilton-based organizations interested in alternative finance, hosted by the Hamilton Community Foundation, CFF’s local collaboration partner and investor.

Executive Director Linda Dayler met with the Community Forward Fund and shared their goal, which was still only a dream at that point, to purchase their own building to support their many programs and to create a welcoming home for their many client groups.

In the following months, CFS and CFF began exploring options for their building plans. Linda was glad to receive solid advice and helpful strategies to help the project go forward. She recalls,

“They took the time to understand the needs of our organization and to offer support that would help us realize our goal.”

CFF is working with the CFS using a funding schedule that has been specifically structured to fit the requirements of their project, which is slated for completion in Spring 2014.

Linda is grateful for the opportunity to work with CFF and remarks, “When I first met with CFF, we were just at the seedling stage and the tasks seemed insurmountable, but the CFF team has been there for us every step of the way, helping to make sure it all works out for the best.”