MemberOctober 25, 2022 at 3:48 pm
I am CEO of VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. We serve people who are blind and their families at three center locations and in home and community training. Many of our offerings are also now virtual and in person including older adult center classes, work readiness training and youth services. Our budget is $12.5 million annually and we have over 100 staff (both part time and full time. We have used our reserves to cover Covid related costs that are not originally budgeted and were not covered by any other source. This included masks for all our staff and blind participants, talking thermometers, rolling bags for staff to use when doing home visits for training, computers and printers for use when working at home. We increased the office cleaning schedule .We have been mailing supplies to staff and the mailing costs are not covered by any other source. We also used our reserves for costs exacerbated by Covid. We increased the hourly rate for our lowest paid staff to a minimum $21 per hour at the time a new report was published by the Human Services Council on the $21 per hour “living wage’ for New York City. This definitely helped reduce turnover. We also used our reserves to pay an incentive to all staff that got vaccinated ($100 for proof of each Covid vaccination or booster) and we increased the reimbursement for mileage mid year when the federal government increased the mileage reimbursement rate. We provide an additional monetary incentive for staff that must drive their own vehicle for work purposes as long as the average cost of a gallon of gas in New York City is above $3.50. Some of the costs were initially covered by foundation grants that have now ended. Many of these costs are now incorporated into our most recent agency budget for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2022. we are continuing to require and provide masks for all staff and participants. We have been able to access some mask donations and recently received a donation from the city for Covid test kits that are more accessible for blind users however we need to mail them our which is an expense.