It's all over but the paperwork.
It’s all over but the paperwork.
And a considerable amount of paperwork it will be.
By now, the newest of four Columbus Public Health citizen advisory panels may have achieved nonprofit status with the anticipated filing of articles of incorporation with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
Members of the North Side Health Advisory Committee signed off last week on the wording of the application and the appointment of a board of directors.
Once the paperwork is filed — something co-chairman Scott Dowling anticipated doing this week — North Side Health Advisory Committee Inc. will officially become a nonprofit organization.
“We’ve been waiting a long time to do this,” Dowling said at last week’s monthly meeting. “I’m excited about it. It’s been a long time coming.”
Next up: The more cumbersome and perhaps time-consuming process of obtaining nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service.
Formed in early 2010 following the inauguration of similar advisory panels for the Near East, West and South sides of Columbus, the volunteer committee is charged with addressing the specific health issues of, initially, the Northland area and eventually the entire North Side.
“The long-range intent of the Health Advisory Committee is to be the vehicle that brings and keeps health issues of the neighborhood in the forefront of policy- and decision-makers and those that provide health care access and services,” John Tolbert, director of the community health division and the originator of the concept, wrote in a letter to north side community leaders in early August 2009 as volunteer support was being mustered.
Achieving nonprofit status, which has been shepherded along since early May by tax attorney Nathan Durst, working on a pro bono basis, allows the North Side Health Advisory Committee to seek grants and other funding without having to align with another agency or organization. The committee would also have control over the use of any funds.
Along those lines, committee members at last week’s session decided to hold a special meeting in mid-October to lay the groundwork for using a possible $6,500 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The advisory group, in partnership with the Helping Hands Health and Wellness Center free clinic, applied for Healthy People 2020 initiative funding in late June.
Applicants will find out by Nov. 11 if they will receive the grants or not, Columbus Public Health management analyst Mathew S. Baldwin said last week. Baldwin advises the North Side Health Advisory Committee. Any program to be paid for with the grant would have to be implemented as of Dec. 1 and run through May 31, he pointed out.
“We may or may not get the grant,” Baldwin acknowledged, at the same time urging more specific planning than has been done to date.
“The principal activities will be to provide educational classes in weight control, including food preparation classes,” according to the grant application.
“Think about what where you would like to be involved, what you would like to do,” Baldwin urged.
Dowling agreed with making plans for spending what would represent a major infusion of funding for the group’s efforts.
“If you’re going to go after Moby Dick, don’t forget to pack the tartar sauce,” he said.
Baldwin expressed some amazement that the youngest of the advisory committees had come so far in such a short time as to be on the precipice of becoming an official nonprofit organization requesting funding from a major entity such as the CDC.
“That, I think, is fairly unusual,” he said. “I think it shows tremendous progress, the fact that we would undertake this.
“We could be in for some really interesting stuff in the future.”
Dowling praised the free legal advice provided by Durst and the care he took in crafting a code of regulations and articles of incorporation.
“He has formed it in a language that I think certainly is legally appropriate but is still pretty easily understood,” Dowling said.