Microsoft Helps to End Homelessness

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Housing Services for Eaton County
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

It is the mission of HSEC to assist the people of Eaton County with low or moderate incomes, including those with disabilities, to obtain safe and affordable housing. We shall provide an environment that encourages and supports the attainment of economic and self-sufficiency. In addition, HSEC believes in the continuum-of-care- aprroach to serving clients. That is why we support and utilize other agencies and programs in our area to better serve the diverse needs of Eaton County residents.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Microsoft Technology Helps to End Eaton County Homelessness

What image comes to mind when I say “homeless client”? Does this person have dirty hair, baggy clothes, a limp, and the stale smell of old cigarettes? Do you see great shoes, a business suit, confident eyes, someone smelling of flowery perfume? At Housing Services we see both of these people everyday. We watch people from all neighborhoods walk through our doors desperate for help. We are all too familiar with the term “homeless client”. We know that there is no longer a typical homeless person. It could be anyone, your co-worker, your neighbor, your mother, or even your boss. We work hard every day, family by family, to make a difference in our community, and Microsoft technologies works with us to optimize the delivery of our mission. Microsoft products have enabled us to make a bigger impact on our community by assisting us to develop new programs and services, and enhance the quality and impact of our current programs.

Our mission is simply the heart of who we are, it is our mission to assist the people of Eaton County with low or moderate incomes to obtain safe and affordable housing while providing an environment that encourages and supports the attainment of economic self-sufficiency. Microsoft has helped us to optimize the delivery of this mission in too many ways to name in one short essay, so we will focus on the major aspects that are the most incredible.

With the help of Microsoft we have had the ability to significantly increase the amount of programs and services that we offer to the residents of our county. One of the most momentous changes that Microsoft brought to us came in the use of Excel spreadsheets. We’ve been able to convert our funding charts to excel spreadsheets, so that each grant has its own chart that self feeds from month to month for the entire grant year, giving us an easy method to keep track of spending in a quick and painless manner. Excel is able to complete all of the complex calculations that we need. This incredible feature has freed up massive amounts of time, energy, and migraine medication. With the ability to easily keep track of each program we have been able to add nine new programs to our agency, and each new program allows us to serve more families.

Excel not only tracks our funding charts it keeps track of our clients, our services, our donors, and anything else that we need to show an auditor. We have been able to free up invaluable hours by letting Excel and the other office programs do all of the hard work for us, giving us time to develop and create new services and programs, it allows us to reach more households. Since we have switched to electronic tracking with Microsoft products, we have been able to serve 324 more families each year. Without these time-saving programs provided by Microsoft we would never have the time to grow and increase our impact on the community.

While we have had time to add to our programs and services we have also been able to keep up with our current programs and enhance the quality of them. A great example of Microsoft helping to make one of our creations have a greater community impact would be our weekly housing and employment guides, our resource guide, and our newsletters. These great ideas were impossible to manage until we were able to utilize Excel, Word, Publisher and Internet Explorer.

Our weekly housing guide is a comprehensive list of affordable housing units within our county. This list includes the type of unit, the contact number, number of bedrooms, and rent information. We also created a weekly employment guide. This guide is a list of available employment within the county. It contains the Employer, contact information, job description and requirements, and salary. Residents of this county rely on these lists, and anxiously wait for the updated version each week. We are able to get both of these list completed and out to the public on time each Tuesday because we are able to use Excel and Word. Excel allows for us to keep the housing guide organized and readable. It gives us room to get all of the needed information in one place in a manner that clients can understand. Excel also allows us to make the changes each week quickly and efficiently.

Internet Explorer is a safe, secure, and easy to use web browser that gives us access to design and modify our website. The website gives us the opportunity to place our resources online. Using Internet Explorer is great for us and our clients since it is a web standard and works great with our site. In the month of April we had on average forty clients each week visit the office to pick up our lists, and 791 visits to the webpage that holds these lists. Microsoft technology has given us the ability to quickly produce these guides and get them out to our community on a much bigger scale than we could accomplish on our own.

As a small nonprofit agency we are always struggling for funding. This issue forces us to get creative and resourceful. We have been able to utilize Microsoft Publisher to develop all of our program brochures and fliers. With the expertise of Publisher we are able to create beautiful and professional documents that we otherwise would not be able to afford. These items explain what we can do to help, and who we are. They are very important to our agency in order to get our name and mission out. Publisher also allows us to create a brilliant Resource Directory. The Resource Directory is a self- help guide we produce that contains helpful resources available in our county. Publisher has made this book possible and allows for annual updating.

We are also incredibly grateful for the networking features included in Windows XP Pro. These features were easy to use and set up. With the use of a network, we have been able to make our work day much more efficient. We now have the ability to share important documents and information for each program. Every staff member is able to store information on the shared server allowing access for other case managers, giving our office a much better work flow, and helps the operation run effortlessly. The ability to use this feature creates a healthier environment for every program and service we offer.

As case managers for homeless clients, we need to focus our time and energy on the individuals that walk through our doors. As a nonprofit we have to creatively stretch all of the dollars and resources that we have. Microsoft has been an invaluable tool to our agency and it is irreplaceable. These products have freed time for us to add valuable programs to this community and to enhance the programs that we currently run making room for us to help more and more people each year. Thank you, Microsoft, for joining with us to put and end to homelessness.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery