Following Embezzlement Scandal One Year Ago, Boston Living Center Finds New Stability and Future Through Merger with Victory Programs
Merger Preserves Critical Services for People Living with HIV/AIDS in Boston
BOSTON (February 7, 2012)—At a time when creative collaborations are a necessity for preserving and expanding services, two Boston nonprofit agencies—Victory Programs and the Boston Living Center—will soon merge, the agencies announced today. Last year, the Boston Living Center, New England’s largest community resource for people living with HIV/AIDS, nearly shuttered its doors after discovering the executive director had embezzled more than $125,000.
“The Boston Living Center is an anchor for hundreds living with HIV/AIDS who rely on its meals program and peer support everyday. No one wanted to see the Center close because of one person’s illicit activities,” says Victory Programs’ President and CEO Jonathan Scott. “When approaching a merger, Victory Programs considers two levels of benefits: financial and social—this merger has both.”
The programming of both agencies is highly complementary with both organizations being at the forefront of HIV/AIDS services since the earliest days of the epidemic. In addition to their commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS, the organizations share an emphasis on community, wellness and nutrition; connections to housing and job training; and a dedication to meeting the city’s emerging health needs.
“Having completed four mergers in the past six years, the leadership at Victory Programs understands what it takes to form strategic alliances,” says Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “This merger is a win-win. Not only does it bring two of Boston’s great nonprofits together under Victory Programs, but it also enables a critical resource for people living with HIV/AIDS to remain open.”
After discovering the embezzlement and removing the executive director, the Boston Living Center approached Victory Programs for guidance and help. Victory Programs reached out to the Catalyst Fund, a fund created to support collaborative ventures among nonprofit organizations. With financial support from the Catalyst Fund, the agencies began discussing a potential alliance. The two agencies have been working together under a management agreement since July 2011.
Following a unanimous vote from both boards in late January, the Boston Living Center will officially merge on March 1 as a program under Victory Programs’ umbrella of services model. Though the Boston Living Center will become Victory Programs’ 18th program, its identity and brand will not change.
“The forward thinking of these two agencies exemplifies the strategic role collaborations and mergers can play in the nonprofit sector,” says Peter Kramer of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, which manages the Catalyst Fund.
Last spring, the Boston Living Center raised more than $250,000 during an emergency campaign from loyal supporters and stakeholders. With the dedication of the staff, board, and support from Victory Programs, member services at the Boston Living Center were not interrupted for a single day. Additionally, Victory Programs helped the Boston Living Center make full restitution to all employees and vendors, and put into place a series of checks and balances to prevent such fraud from happening again. The former executive director is now a convicted felon.
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ABOUT THE ORGANZATIONS:
Victory Programs was established in 1975 in Boston and provides housing and direct care services to individuals and families. The organization has a long history of mergers and collaborations with nearly two-thirds of its programming acquired this way. The organization’s mission is to open doors to recovery, hope, and community to individuals and families facing homelessness, addiction, or other chronic illnesses. Victory Programs’ umbrella of services includes 17 health and housing programs throughout Boston and one in Cambridge. They also operate a technical assistance program, which helps organizations create housing for people living with HIV/AIDS in eleven Northeast states.
The Boston Living Center (BLC) is a nonprofit community and resource center with a mission to foster the wellness of all HIV positive people and respond to the changing needs of the HIV/AIDS community. The Boston Living Center provides meals, programs and services, free-of-charge, to members in the context of an exceptionally welcoming, drug-free, safe, confidential, and culturally diverse environment. The only criterion for membership at the Center is verification of HIV+ status.
Victory Programs, Development Officer
(617) 541-0222 ext. 625