Synergy Group strives to streamline non-profit efforts
by non-profits, the other by the church community work to provide food to hungry families. Unfortunately for the family in question, the access to the food they need is blocked by a lack of information. Worried that they would be turned away from Lake Stevens food banks because of their Everett address, the family goes hungry again.
Despite the well-intentioned efforts of non-profit volunteers and organizers, there is a gap between those in need and those willing to give.
In order to bridge this gap, several volunteers have created a non-profit clearinghouse known as the Synergy Group in an effort to streamline the efforts of non-profits and the availability of their services.
As a formerly sleepy community wakes into a regional presence, the non-profit community within grows as well. Fed by a core group of individuals to whom community service is a civic duty, the availability of services and resources to the less fortunate has grown but a growing dichotomy between the availability of services and the ability of those in need to connect with the non-profits has some in our community concerned.
Tonya Christoffersen, the incoming 2007 Lake Stevens Lions Club President, has been active in Lake Stevens since she began working at North County Bank several years ago. A Snohomish resident, she’d raised a family in Snohomish and been involved in Snohomish’s civic activities for some time. After entering the Lake Stevens community, she continued her drive to serve.
Now, Christoffersen wears many hats in the Lake Stevens service community. She’s the incoming president of the Lions. She is co-chair of the Lake Stevens Community Park Committee (formerly known as the Skate Park Committee); she is a Chamber board member and a Rotary officer. She also serves on the Lake Stevens Family Center board. Her involvement in these various organizations led her to believe that greater organization could benefit the service community. Hence, the Synergy Group was born.
“The idea behind Synergy is that all of the non-profits meet together and share what’s going on. The representatives who attend the Synergy meetings take the information back to their respective organizations and update their membership,” said Christoffersen, adding that ultimately, she would like Synergy to include a representative from each of Lake Stevens’ 20-plus non profit organizations.
Others in the community have been quick to rally behind Christoffersen’s efforts. State
Senator Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) requested a $25,000 operational budget appropriation to fund the group’s start-up costs in this year’s biennial budget.
Christoffersen’s employer, North County Bank has been a firm supporter of her efforts and granted her the time and latitude to further her goals.
North County Bank President and CEO Jack Myles said he stands behind Christoffersen’s efforts and is proud of her work in the community.
“Tonya is a great representative of the bank. Besides doing her job, she’s been involved in numerous charitable activities. In each of these activities, she’s out there representing the bank, and she’s a great ambassador for both the bank and the community,” Myles said.
Christoffersen admits that her efforts have met with some skepticism in the non-profit community some have voiced concerns that Synergy is an effort to centralize organization control, wresting power away from other non-profits.
The Journal contacted several non-profit leaders, and found none with anything negative to say about Synergy.
Lake Stevens Family Center Director Kathleen Friend is a partner in Synergy and a supporter of the group’s cause and Christoffersen’s efforts.
“Synergy is not its own non-profit agency, it is not replacing any of the services within the community, nor is the group partnership trying to create a redundancy of services within Lake Stevens.
“The vision of Synergy is to be the ‘Uber’ tool that will assist all of these partners to leverage their assets and opportunities to enhance and build our community’s capacity for the greatest positive community affect within the Lake Stevens area,” Friend said.
Christoffersen, who is soon to be the Lake Stevens Lions’ first female president, credits her predecessor in the position with the idea behind Synergy.
“Dick Qualey sparked Synergy, along with Ron McEntyre and the Lake Stevens Family Center. Synergy’s ultimate goal is a partnering that will bring the non-profit community and every individual living within the greater Lake Stevens area together through working towards a unified goal,” Christoffersen said.
Christoffersen stressed that Synergy’s efforts do not supersede the individual goals of service organizations, but simply works to simplify access. She is careful to respect the missions of existing organizations.
“The Lions, Rotary, and Kiwanis will continue to touch the community in many amazing ways through outreach and work in our area. The Lake Stevens Family Center will continue to be our community’s local human service organization and resource hub.
“Sherwood will maintain the incredible work they do in providing inclusive opportunities for education and support to children and adults with developmental disabilities”.
“Faith based organizations will continue to provide the spiritual backbone of our community families, youth and individuals; and other respective partners of Synergy will remain as diverse as the providers of services throughout Lake Stevens; faithful to each group’s own individual missions and visions.”
Organizers stress that greater organization and teamwork will ultimately lead a community with an efficient system of delivering services to those in need. And while the discussion is an academic exercise to some Synergy backers are confident that if even one hungry family is positively affected by the group’s organization the cause will certainly be justified.
For more information on Synergy and how to be involved, contact the Family Center at (425) 397-7433 or email Tonya Christoffersen at TonyaC@NorthCountyBank.com.