MILFORD - Helen Loughlin, interim director of the Beth-El Center, is an idealist when it comes to helping make the world a better place and a realist when dealing with money matters .
"To make money you need to spend money," said Loughlin, speaking softly in a voice tinged with a Scottish accent that is not strong enough to disguise her frustration. "It is very difficult for nonprofits to raise enough cash to plan for the future, let alone meet short-term, often desperate, needs of their clients."
When Loughlin learned that Beth-El Center had been selected the winner of Humanitects Inc. "Extreme Makeover-Website Edition" award, she knew that the center was presented with the opportunity to break out of a financial Catch-22.
"Since the company's founding, our mission has been to help our clients better reach and serve their clients," said James L. Rude, Humnanitects' president. "We established the makeover award this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Milford Chamber of Commerce," Rude said.
The Beth-El Center, the only shelter and soup kitchen in Milford, has been serving the homeless and hungry for 20 years. It will receive up to $5,000 in Web software and consulting services. The award includes a variety of Web page attributes, including Web site content management software, e-mail subscriber and campaign management reporting, and up to 40 hours of Web site analysis, design, development and publishing services.
Nominations for the award were accepted online directly from constituents served by Connecticut nonprofits. A committee of local business leaders overwhelmingly selected Beth-El Center as the winning agency.
"The stories sent in from both past and present residents of Beth-El Center were deeply moving. This is an organization that is clearly making an enormous difference in people's lives," Rude said.
In 2002, Rude founded Humanitects, a Milford-based development firm that builds "Web solutions with humanity in sight." He had worked for Stamford-based Hyperion Solutions for 20 years, helping to build it into a leader in Web-based business applications.
According to Rude, Humanitects' mission is to enhance the human experience through delivering corporate-class Web solutions to small businesses and organizations in the nonprofit and health-service sectors.
"Although I loved working for Hyperion, after the events of 9/11, I felt I needed to start making more of an impact on local communities versus dealing solely with Fortune 500 customers," said Rude, who is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce.
"We will start work on the Beth-El project in January 2005," said Rude. "Hopefully, a basic site will be up and running by February 2005."
Bob Heerema, president of CPAC, which is composed of 16 churches in Milford and Orange, said, "We are grateful to Humanitects for helping us realize the opportunity to increase communication with people in Milford through the use of a Web site." "We have been here 20 years and I still have people asking me, 'What is this?', referring to the center's building, said Heerema.
Loughlin is thrilled by the fact that not only will Beth-El's clients benefit directly by the creation of this Web site, but also the administration of the center will be more efficiently and effectively handled.
"Humanitects' generosity will allow us to plan for the future, but not at the expense of the present needs of our clients."