Checkview Corporation Supports Twin Cities’ Dakota

By John Bathgate, volunteer for Dakota Woodlands

When Nicholas J. Khalil, CEO of Checkview Corporation, learned of Dakota Woodlands (DW) safety and security concerns about its women's homeless shelter facility, Checkview sprang into action.

Checkview specializes in safety and security solutions for any type of facility that needs protecting, which made them a perfect fit to help alleviate DW's security concerns. Mr. Khalil learned of the security concerns from Mike Cantone, a business associate who also volunteers at the shelter.

"This gift, like so many, came about by a conversation our Operations Director had with a Dakota Woodland volunteer," said Beth Bromen, DW's Executive Director. "This is an example of how everybody can potentially make a difference to alleviate the pain and suffering of our fellow human beings through awareness of need and a bit of imagination."

"Non-profits rely on the generosity of the community they serve," said Bromen. "At Dakota Woodlands over half our annual budget for essential services to the homeless comes from financial, goods and services donations."

Mr. Khalil was put in contact with Nicole Bathgate, the Operations Director at Dakota Woodlands and they, along with Mike Cantone, met to discuss the level of security needed to protect the residents and staff of the facility. It was then that Mr. Khalil knew Checkview could help. He decided Checkview would take on DW as a corporate project and donate a state-of-the-art digital video system complete with cameras and recording capability to the shelter.

"Checkview is a family orientated company and we will help when we can. It was apparent to us in this case, that Dakota Woodlands would benefit immensely from having a security system in place," said Mr. Khalil. "It's extremely important to Checkview to support such a valuable cause and to ensure families are safe and secure. We're fortunate that this is our business and we take it very seriously."

"Although Dakota Woodlands provides for the homeless and is not a Domestic Violence Shelter, security is still a critical component of our operations," said Bromen. "Our security needs pertain to the health and welfare of our clients in regards to their safety."

"Recently we had an incident in which a resident collapsed outside during inclement weather," said Bromen. "She had her bundled-up child with her and it was some time before it was discovered she was missing. In this instance, there was no lasting harm but with only two or three staff on the premises, it was impossible to be everywhere. The security cameras will provide a quick overview of the building and grounds so activity can be judiciously monitored by staff while they are in their office area."

The system will allow the staff to record all of the activity that's going on throughout the building. It will also allow users to monitor the facility from remote locations. As long as the person has a computer and access to the system, they can view the cameras from anywhere.

The Checkview team spent a few hours touring the facility and tentatively deciding on the best places to locate cameras to provide the ultimate security and protection for residents. The process of getting the system up and running is going to be done in phases, according to Mr. Khalil.

The first step in the process was a meeting between Bathgate and Jose Gonzalez, director of technical integration for Checkview, and his technician team. Once the placement of the cameras was finalized, plans were drawn up showing camera placement and the wiring design. It was at this point the installation work began.

"I must say, working with Jose and his technical team was a pleasure," said Bathgate. "Installing a 24-camera CCTV system definitely was a major endeavor, and they handled the installation professionally and systematically. We hardly knew they were on site."

Another important service Checkview is providing is the technical support. If a DVR breaks down or something goes wrong with the system, DW can contact the technical support team at Checkview and they will fix the problem.

DW is a non-profit women's homeless shelter in Eagan Minnesota. Its mission is to provide shelter and supportive services to homeless women and families. DW can assist twenty-two homeless families at a time with housing and training that includes life skills, financial literacy and personal wellness.

The award winning program at DW is known for its friendly atmosphere, personal attention and successful "one shelter stay" for its residents. Over 92 percent of the residents who participate in the full program succeed in staying stably housed after leaving the shelter.

As with most non-profit organizations, Dakota Woodlands depends on the generous contributions of local businesses, church groups, volunteers and government agencies to carry out its mission.

The staff at non-profit organizations generally work for lower wages than for-profit companies, but often feel a lot of what they do comes from the heart and their desire to help those that need a helping hand at a particularly difficult period in their lives. Their work is more of a calling, a desire to help people, than just a job.

The residents of the shelter are for the most part single women, often times with their children, who find themselves homeless with no other place to go.

Raising funds for the continued operation of a facility like Dakota Woodlands is a full time job. It's often a juggling match attempting to find the funds to keep the facility operating in an efficient manner. But thanks to companies like Checkview we can keep the residents of the facility safe and secure.


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