March 1, 2015; The Oregonian (Associated Press)

NPQ hates writing about nonprofits that have been negligent in crafting their own endings. This story is not that. In this case, it appears that a nonprofit with a critical mission but difficult finances was able to organize its own ending such that its constituency would not be harmed.

In Buffalo, New York, Vive la Casa, a thirty-year-old shelter for refugees, has recently been experiencing financial troubles severe enough to cause it to consider closing. But now, with a grant from the John J. Oishei Foundation, the Jericho Road Community Health Center has announced it will buy the nonprofit. The health center is related in that it has not only historically served the shelter’s population, providing them with medical care, but it focuses all of its services on refugees and immigrants.

Vive la Casa acts as a way station for Canada-bound refugees, and will serve approximately 2,000 more people this year. Vive’s residents come from a wide array of places, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia. They often gain entrance into the U.S. legally, as students or temporary residents, and then apply for asylum, mostly in Canada but also the United States.

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Each day, the Canada Border Service agency sends over between two and 10 names of shelter residents they will consider for admittance. Vive has legal staff to help them prepare their cases and then arrange an interview with Canadian immigration officials, who can say yea or nay. This process may take days or weeks, and accurate preparation is all-important since if an applicant is turned down at this point, he or she cannot reapply for a year. Because of the level of experience of the staff, a 90 percent success rate is expected.

Jericho expects to close the deal in March by purchasing the building and hiring Vive’s 13 staff people. Vive will dissolve and Jericho will assume all program responsibilities.

Jericho reports that it is “not inheriting a financial mess” in Vive. “They really did a wonderful job of reducing their expenses, paying off their debts and moving it to a position where what we’re assuming is in a good financial position,” Chris Campbell, Jericho CEO, said. “It’s actually in very good shape, which really eases any sort of burden for Jericho to take on the program.”—Ruth McCambridge