Seward Neighborhood Group reorganizing in wake of financial trouble


Committees, volunteers hope to bolster revitalization

Just weeks after Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG) board members discovered the true extent of the organization’s financial plight, the non-profit is looking ahead to its immediate future and revitalization.

Last month, when SNG’s checking account bottomed out at negative $1,000, board members were left with no choice than to lay off their entire paid staff, but the organization is moving forward as a volunteer-based organization, at least for the time being.

Roughly a dozen people, many of them board members, attended the Sept. 27 revitalization meeting. SNG is hosting regular Thursday meetings at 7 p.m. each week, while the organization works on the immediate task of restructuring and reorganizing. All are invited to attend and to volunteer.

By the end of the night, five separate committees had been created, each with a list of key tasks. The new committees and some of their responsibilities are listed below.

• The finance committee will organize files, plan for debt reduction and work with SNG’s creditors.
• The membership and communications committee will work to improve SNG’s community data bank, work on the organization’s website and launch the new e-Democracy listserv.
• A new fundraising group will look for new grants, while the new funder relations committee will look into the status of current grants and conduct personal meetings with past funders.
• The fifth committee will coordinate SNG’s annual meeting, which takes place Nov. 7.

SNG is also committed to hosting the annual Seward Arts Festival. This year’s event, taking place Saturday, Nov. 10, will feature an all-day arts crawl, wine tasting, author readings, a parade, movies and music. For more information, visit

The Revitalization Committee also discussed issues they said should be addressed by SNG’s executive committee, which has been meeting regularly since the financial crisis came to light in August.

A topic common to all the committees is defining and creating a temporary paid position for an office coordinator, including exploring how the position would be paid for.

For now, however, the neighborhood group’s work falls to volunteers.

“Obviously to lay off six people and still have the organization function, we’re going to need a lot of volunteer input,” SNG’s interim treasurer, Kevin Brown said at an SNG revitalization meeting last week.

Brown, who’s also a board member, has been SNG’s temporary treasurer since Perry Caranicas resigned from the position back in July. In recent weeks, he has spearheaded an effort to sort out SNG’s financial situation, looking back for the factors in the collapse and forward to funding that remains and money that may still be coming in.

The question also remains as to whether SNG will retain its current office space, given their current circumstances. Charlie Hoffman, who is both a board member and executive committee member, said that at least for the short-term, SNG will stay put, but, in the long term, “it’s a decision we have to think about,” Hoffman told the Revitalization Committee.

Board President Jean Johnstad reported that even more people volunteers after the most recent Revitalization meeting during the first week of October, including someone to update and improve the SNG website,, and others putting in time in the office.

An ongoing audit of SNG’s financial situation continues; watch for further coverage of that issue on this website later this month and in our November print issue, as well as a preview of the upcoming Seward Arts Festival.