by William T. Beverly, Ph.D.
WALSENBURG- When Debbie Shronce took the Executive Director’s office at the Huerfano County Youth Services – now known as the Sangre de Cristo Center for Youth (SCCY), she had three primary goals.
The goals were as follows: (1) To lead the agency through an audit that could separate the new organization (SCCY) from its past; (2) Board Governance Training for members of the Board of Directors; and (3) Revamping of the agency infrastructure through new policies, procedures, and a research-based strategic plan.
Huerfano County Youth Services has been a helpful agency for Huerfano youth throughout its history of delivering free positive youth development services. The agency under its Board of Directors and previous Executive Director of 11 years, Debbie Channel, had done wonderful things for the community. However, they had also been rumored to have problems related to fundraising efforts, documentation and general accountability.
According to Mary Anderson, long-time Board of Directors member of SCCY, “Debbie Shronce took on a program in need and through her leadership and commitment, demonstrated her true skills and dedication to the youth of Huerfano County. Today, we are continuing her effort to help our children.”
Although by all accounts, Shronce was well on her way to successfully redirecting SCCY toward a brighter future, the economy took its toll. The agency found it could not support fulltime employees.
Still, Shronce is proud that after restructuring SCCY, and before leaving the agency, she was able to guide it through a 2010 Audit by Taylor, Roth and Company (of Denver), which gave the agency the best rating an agency can get. She was able to secure new sources of funding through the Colorado Health Foundation ($57k) and the Adolph Coors Family Foundation ($10k), even though the funding was not enough to guarantee salaries for core service staff.
Unfortunately, the damage had already been done, and SCCY had lost a significant amount of its funding from previous and prospective foundations: Temple Buell Foundation ($20k) and other grants that in part were due to an earlier (2009) audit before her time. The 2009 audit cited negative impressions related to a lack of financial documentation and accountability.
Bad things sometimes happen to good people and even after a brief tenure of opening helpful doors and creating new services, Shronce was let go due to a “lack of funds.” The Board of SCCY is currently developing programs largely based on using volunteer providers.
Meanwhile, Debbie Shronce, a member of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, will be graduating from the Community Resource Center’s Leadership Program and will be graduating from Colorado State University with her Bachelors Degree in Business Management with a Minor in Nonprofit Management in April 2012. She is currently serving on the Leadership Committee of the Board of Directors of Southeast Rural Philanthropy Days as well as on the Board of the Huerfano/Las Animas Early Childhood Advisory Council (HuLA). She is a member of the Board of Directors of Pueblo Rape Crisis Services as well.