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Building Trust by Building Community: Belgrade Senior Center

Saddled on a prime piece of real estate along the fringes of Belgrade lies its humble senior center. With sweeping, unobstructed views of the Bridger Mountains, the Belgrade Senior Center is a respite in a chaotic valley. But it didn’t always feel that way.

At the end of 2017, Lisa Beedy was hired as new Executive Director for the senior center. She was thrilled. Beedy’s husband Dave was already working at the senior center as the chef. The couple knew they worked well together: they’d been running a summer camp for decades. But when Dave suffered a brain injury, being a head chef for hundreds of campers was no longer an option.

Eventually, as Dave healed, he found his way back to cooking. The Belgrade Senior Center took a chance and hired him. The first few meals he cooked were an experiment, to be sure. He knew the recipes. He knew how to perfectly cook and season his dishes. But his brain kept scrambling the order of when to cook what. Thankfully, the seniors at the center were patient. They stuck with Dave in the early days at the center and his infectious smile won them over. Dave, for his part, quickly regained his footing in the kitchen.

Less than a year after Dave was hired, the center’s executive director at the time abruptly left her post. Before that, a different director made a series of financial and tax missteps leaving the senior center in financial shambles. By the time Beedy took the reins late in 2017, the senior center was buried under a mountain of back taxes. Though she didn’t cause the financial strife or eroding trust in the senior center, Beedy nevertheless quickly picked up the proverbial mop and got to work.

She was zealous about organization. Every important paper was carefully attended to and sorted. When the center’s finances were in better order, Beedy began the real work of regaining the community’s trust. Instead of shutting the center’s doors while she ironed out the trouble, Beedy flung the doors wide open and let in the sunlight.

She kept beloved activities like exercise and card games going, and added new activities, such as themed meals, parties for holidays, dance classes, guest speakers and art classes. During the holidays, Beedy let the community host children’s book reading hour with the Grinch. She brought in high school students during a service day to interact with seniors and spruce the center up.

Day by day, the Beedys worked to rebuild trust among seniors and Belgrade residents. When Lisa Beedy heard the Better Business Bureau could help rebuild trust, she jumped at the opportunity. In addition to vetting and accrediting businesses, the BBB vets registered charities at no cost. The charity vetting is thorough. A BBB charity expert looks at the nonprofit’s finances, board governance, overhead costs, expense reporting, accuracy of fundraising materials and more. In total, there are 20 standards a charity must meet to become a BBB Accredited Charity.

After receiving help from BBB, Beedy was able to correctly prepare all the documents needed for charity review. And after a thorough review, the BBB team approved the Belgrade Senior Center for accreditation. On the center’s front door now hangs a blue BBB decal of which Beedy is very proud. While she did the hard work to get there, she says the BBB logo signifies to everyone who walks through the door that the Belgrade Senior Center goes above and beyond to promote trust.

To learn more about charity accreditation or find a non-profit to trust, visit give.org.

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Written by Courtney Green

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