An Important Letter from Michael Schley, IFMA Fellow, Chairman of IFMA Foundation
Dear IFMA Foundation Trustees,
I’m sure all of you are aware of the disaster that befell Houston this week with Hurricane Harvey. As know the majority of IFMA’s employees reside in the Houston area. Thankfully, everyone on the IFMA staff is safe. However, many IFMA employees suffered significant flooding damage and some had to flee their homes with just the clothes on their backs. Most homeowners policies do not cover flooding damage and it is estimated that only 15% of the people lived in areas designated floor-prone and carried flood insurance.
The IFMA Foundation Executive Committee, Tony Keane, Cheryl White and Bill O’Neill met by phone this afternoon and I’m pleased to tell you that IFMA and the IFMA Foundation are moving quickly to provide much needed help. The Executive Committee voted to set up an Employee Assistance Fund (EAF) within the Foundation. Jeff Tafel did some impressive research in a very short amount of time on this and we have the information needed to proceed properly within IRS guidelines. Here are the key facts:
- The fund will be used to help IFMA employees suffering hardship due to natural disaster or other personal situations. The initial use will be disaster related since guidelines for personal situations will take some time to develop. The fund will stay in place however to serve future needs that might arise.
- Fundraising for the fund will start tomorrow with an online giving link on the Foundation and IFMA websites. Donations will be tax deductible.
- Communication to chapters, councils and communities will be done by tomorrow with an email from Tony Keane. I know that a number of chapters are at work trying to determine ways to help, so we felt it was important to get the word out quickly.
- An independent advisory group will be set up to decide on disbursements to employees in need. The IRS rules require that the group not include IFMA staff or volunteer leadership, therefore excluding present IFMA Directors and present IFMA Foundation Trustees. We decided on a five-person group and feel that finding volunteers from the membership will not be a problem.
- The group discussed whether assistance should also be provided to IFMA members. It was felt however that these needs are vastly beyond our resources and outside our purpose. We will include recommendations in the fundraising messages recommending donations to the Red Cross for general assistance.
As of 5 minutes ago, the online link is live and can be found at: https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/IfmaFoundation/EAF.html. Great work Jeff!
We will make all of this official next week on our call, but felt that exceptional circumstances required immediate action. By the way, downtown Houston survived in pretty decent shape and World Workplace should take place as planned and on schedule.
Finally, continue with your thoughts and prayers for those worldwide affected by natural disaster. The road to recovery for those whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Harvey will be long and arduous.
Michael Schley, IFMA Fellow
Chairman, IFMA Foundation