Dorothy Firsching

On Saturday, March 18, 2017, I will present Great Association Websites on behalf of the Washington, DC Chapter of the Community Associations Institute.

Please contact me if you are interested in attending. As soon as I have the final flyer, I will post it here.

NOVA Housing Resource GuideThe NOVA Housing Resource Guide is now live!  The Virginia Housing and Supportive Services' Northern Virginia Regional Implementation Team (NoVA RIT) educates individuals, families and service providers about integrated, independent housing and housing resources. 

Ursa Major Consulting created its Housing Resource Guide website. The Resource Guide incorporates a database on apartment complexes, housing resources and programs, and provides videos and webinars as part of a toolkit to help individuals move to independent housing. The site was created using Joomla! and associated components. New housing resources and programs can be submitted for approval by members of the public and administered by the NoVA RIT.

The Guide contains information about public and private organizations that provide housing and housing-related assistance for residents in Northern Virginia, including the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, and the Cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. While the guide was produced for the benefit of residents with developmental disabilities, their families and support coordinators, many resources within the guide are available to the broader community based upon income or need.

The contents of the Guide are reviewed and updated by volunteers on a bi-annual basis. However, if you find inaccurate information listed for a program or organization, please contact us so that we can rectify the error as expeditiously as possible. We have provided the ability to submit program / resource information and information on additional housing resources.

This version of the Guide contains about 100 pages of information already and will continue to grow and be updated. There are basically three types of information included:

  • Database entries on housing (primarily apartment complexes). To search it, select Find Housing Query.
  • Database entries on programs and resources. To search it, select Find Resources / Programs.
  • The Housing Assistance menu provides articles that may also be of assistance.

To search the database, go to Find Rental housing or Find Housing Resources on the main menu, and then look for the Find Housing or Find Resources Queries on the sidebar menu.

The Virginia Housing and Supportive Services' Northern Virginia Regional Implementation Team (NoVA RIT) educates individuals, families and service providers about integrated, independent housing and housing resources. 

Ursa Major Consulting created its Housing Resource Guide website. The Resource Guide incorporates a database on apartment complexes, housing resources and programs, and provides videos and webinars as part of a toolkit to help individuals move to independent housing.

The site was created using Joomla! and associated components. New housing resources and programs can be submitted for approval by members of the public and administered by the NoVA RIT.

 

Joomla SEO Performance by Simon Kloostra Simon Kloostra’s book, Joomla! 3 SEO and Performance, is a very focused, short book that is chock full of useful tips and links to resources that Joomla! website developers and administrators may not be aware of. As a long-time Joomla! user and founding member of the Northern Virginia Joomla! Users Group, I find that this book fills a gap on my Joomla! bookshelf.
Simon Kloostra (see his site at joomlaseo.com) is clearly an authority on Joomla! and SEO, but he avoids unnecessary jargon, provides context, and explains SEO in a clear and pleasant style. As of the date of this review, the book is quite current, which is usually a challenge with books. It includes evaluations of and recommendations for dozens of resources to consider for your toolkit.
One frequent question in user group meetings is which commercial template provider is best. This book does get specific and list well-regarded template providers, and also delves into the SEO considerations of template design. This which gives the site developers something more to consider in making their template selection or development decisions.
Perhaps even more valuable is his coverage of ways to maximize Joomla! performance. We have all seen sites that are slower than they need to be; this book explains what to do about it and provides a clear explanation of caching options and ways to optimize both css and javascript files.
Even those with good backgrounds in SEO and Joomla! will find additional insights that will justify their investment in buying and reading this book.

 

 

May 2015 Quorum reducedMy article, Self Service, Customer Service, and Community Service was featured in the May, 2015 issue of Quorum Magazine, the magazine of the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of the Community Associations Institute, which focused on Customer Service. (You have to be a WMCCAI member to log in and download the issue.)

When I was asked to write this article about customer service, with respect to board expectations of management and owners expectations of the board, I immediately realized that disconnects in expectations with regard to customer service lie at the root of many of the problems in the community association world. Who exactly is the customer, and who is supposed to be serving that customer? What expectations do these customers have?

I shared some true stories to illustrate the disconnects, and presented the relationships as they ideally should operate.

Achieving excellence in the Community Service model requires partnering.  Ultimately, the vote of ONE person on a board may tip a critical board decision affecting all owners for years!  The management companies operate within the terms of their contracts and their commitment to a perceived level of service. I challenge boards and management companies to provide a greater level of excellence, to:

  • Improve the condition and value of the property over the longer term
  • Raise the quality of live at the property, through education, communication, and better customer service
  • Improve the financial soundness of the association for the long haul.

This requires breaking out of the box of business as usual, to include consideration of partnering and commitment of the board and management to shared goals, improved training, and improved communication across diverse groups.  One of the reasons why our community has been successful is that its board cares. Let's discuss how to expect and achieve more!

 My prior articles in Quorum include:

  • June, 2014, A Wonderful State of Being, reviewing the 2013 Community Association of the Year winners
  • July, 2011, Hard Work Rewarded, when we were recognized as 2010 Community Association of the Year winner

In addition, I was introduced in the January 2015 issue as a new member of the WMCCAI Board of Directors.

The Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR) has contributed valuable research and analysis on community association issues and trends for 40 years.

The Foundation recently produced a video celebrating excellent work done by community association leaders. Dorothy Firsching, president of the board of directors of Talltree South, and Mindy Culver, vice president, appeared in the video. Watch it below!

 

Foundation - Board Service Video from Community Associations Institute on Vimeo.

Dorothy and Mindy were also featured in a promo for the Community Association Institute's new board member education course. See below!

The Board Leadership Development Workshop - Promo from Community Associations Institute on Vimeo.

Delta Consulting Group, an international consulting firm, needed a new website that featured its professionals.

Delta's experts provide consulting and expert witness services in delay, damage and defects analysis, forensic accounting, loss of productivity, and related services on multifaceted litigation and arbitration cases around the world. 

Their professionals consult on project controls, construction audits, planning and scheduling, and budget analysis.

Ursa Major developed the website using Joomla 3, using Zoo for the directory of professionals.  Their content is administered by an in-house staff, supported by Ursa Major as needed.

 

Hey, folks, Joomla! 3.4 has front-end module editing and "I am not a Robot" recaptcha!

These are two things among many that I know my customers will enjoy.

Read all about it!

I will expound on it more when I have a few minutes!   Just didn't want to tive the impression that I'm napping!

Just a little placeholder to let the world know that we are alive and kicking despite neglecting update of this website!

Working hard on a wide variety of efforts, including:

The Virginia Housing and Supportive Services Consortium (HSS) is an inter-agency collaboration supporting planning for integrated community-based housing opportunities and supportive services for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (ID/DD). The HSS Consortium includes:

  • Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS)
  • Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)
  • Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), and
  • Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

On January 7, 2015, the HSS Consortium convened a meeting with regional and state-wide stakeholders to initiate collaborative planning, incuding the regions of Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and the Richmond metropolitan area. Additional regional meetings are planned, leading up to a Summit anticipated in May 2015 to achieve and sustain rapid results and increased options for housing and services choice for people with ID/DD.

Ursa Major Consulting is pleased to be supporting the HSS Consortium. We worked witth Catoctin Consulting, Rapid Results Institute, and TAC, Inc. in this effort, and are now continuing with the development of the Housing Resource Guide (2017).

 

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