One morning in 2011, Doug Paul struggled to speak. His wife, Leesa, thought he was joking before reality hit. Leesa called 911 and their lives changed forever.

Doug suffered a stroke that resulted in right side paralysis and aphasia. After unsuccessful therapy efforts elsewhere, they turned to AccessCNY. Doug’s mood and outlook improved. Soon he was writing again, even making an anniversary card for Leesa.

“Doug always held confidence and drive within him, but the AccessCNY therapists brought it out in a healthy, positive, proactive way,” Leesa said.

AccessCNY provides rehabilitation and clinical services to 3,000+ individuals yearly. It formed when Enable and Transitional Living Services merged in 2015.

In 2013, the Community Foundation awarded a Strategic Partnership grant to Enable to support the cost of pre-merger needs assessments. The Strategic Partnership Fund supports collaborations between nonprofits that enhance program and resource development.

Matt Seubert, AccessCNY associate executive director, development and communications, said the larger staff creates more effective patient connections.

“The Strategic Partnership grant helped our organizations conduct assessments to look at ways the new organization could be strengthened through investments in technology, board development, branding, legal and financial consulting, and renovations.”

An additional community grant supported a computer systems upgrade to streamline AccessCNY operations. It’s estimated that the merger resulted in an annual savings between $350,000 and $400,000.

Since 2009, CNYCF has made Strategic Partnership grants to local organizations seeking administrative consolidation, joint programming, regionalization, subsidiary formation or a full-scale merger. CNYCF grants have helped more than 20 local organizations merge or affiliate, fostering sustainability, higher levels of efficiency and better programmatic outcomes.

“Through the support of the Community Foundation, AccessCNY is now a more efficient and diverse agency that can help create even more stories of success like Doug’s,” Seubert said.
Last year Leesa threw Doug a surprise five year “rebirth” party to commemorate the day he survived his stroke. Doug was brought to tears, and AccessCNY staff watched in admiration as the couple turned the worst day of their lives into something to celebrate.