[Hpn] Social services struggle to help:Nonprofits:Money needed/United Way funds drop

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Mon, 16 Jul 2001 12:07:34 -0400


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-------Forwarded article-------

Sunday, July 15, 2001
Key West Citizen <http://keysnews.com/>
[Key West, Florida, USA]
Publication: Daily Citizen
Social services struggle to help
<http://stories.keysnews.com/cgi-bin/LiveIQue.acgi$rec=6953?CurrentNews>

Nonprofits: Money needed

as United Way funds drop


BY MANDY BOLEN

Citizen Staff Writer

A homeless man needs a pair of shoes and dental work. An adult with Down 
syndrome wants to work and be able to move out of her parents' house.

A child living in poverty wants a caring, adult role model. An elderly 
person wants someone with whom he can play gin and backgammon.

All of these services are deemed worthy and deserving in the Keys, but it 
has become increasingly difficult to administer them as funding for social 
services has been slashed at the federal, state and local levels.

Social-services agencies are scrambling to find supplemental money to combat 
the losses each has experienced, especially in the past year.


"A lot of major corporate giving is down this year, probably because of the 
economy," said Susan Gouldy, coordinator for United Way of Monroe County and 
a strong advocate for United Way's payroll-deduction program.

The program allows an employee of a participating business to contribute a 
few dollars weekly or monthly. The $2 or $5 contribution is tax-deductible 
and painless, as donors rarely miss a few dollars from their check.

Gouldy estimates if everyone in the county signed up for a weekly $2 payroll 
deduction, every nonprofit agency in the Keys could be sufficiently funded 
every year.

But participation in that program also has dwindled recently, and the amount 
collected so far this year is $10,000 less than what had been collected by 
July 2000, Gouldy said.

The total amounts from payroll deduction have dropped from $169,700 in 1999 
to $144,796 in 2000. The financial plummet sounded an alarm for Gouldy, who 
plans to begin an awareness campaign in the fall to let employers and 
employees know about the program and enlist more contributors to help fund 
the Monroe County charities.


"The agencies' funding got cut across the board," said Nancy Rossell, 
president of the homeless coalition that provides one-way bus tickets to 
people wanting to return to their families, and residential facilities at 
Poinciana Plaza. "We're just trying to make up for it in other ways."


City asked to help


The Southernmost Homeless Assistance League, composed of 11 agencies, 
including the outreach coalition, has targeted the city of Key West as an 
alternative funding source for the agencies that, in various ways, address 
the homelessness issue throughout the county, but especially in Key West.


Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, a federally funded program, was 
eliminated this year, taking away $214,000 from SafePort residential 
rehabilitation program, $10,000 from the Wesley House program, Healthy 
Families, and $16,600 from Guidance Clinic of the Middle Keys, which offers 
the only emergency rehabilitation shelter for men in the county.

Healthy Families Monroe lost an additional $36,000 when the state Department 
of Children and Families reduced spending, while the MARC House and Florida 
Keys Children's Shelter each lost $56,000.

Joe Barker, executive director of Wesley House, and Sandy Higgs, community 
outreach coordinator for the Rural Health Network, presented these numbers 
to the commissioners when asking for $500,000 from the city budget and 
outlining how the money would be used and distributed, Higgs said.

The $500,000 was whittled to $100,000 in budget workshops that have not been 
finalized, but it remains an amount vital to the Southernmost Homeless 
Assistance League, which often looks to state and federal grant money to 
fund their programs.


"It's looking very hopeful that the city government has recognized the 
importance of stepping up to the plate," Higgs said.


The county picture


But that hopeful sentiment is not shared throughout the county, which is 
providing funding to three extra agencies without increasing the amount of 
money to be distributed.

Each year, the county earmarks $289,000 for human services, and asks the 
Human Services Advisory Board, composed of commission-appointed citizens, to 
decide which agencies will get part of that money.

The advisory board has been recently adding recipients but the county has 
not added any money.

There are more kids coming to the table for a limited amount of food, Higgs 
said.

But county administrator Jim Roberts reminded the social-service agencies 
the Human Services Advisory Board and the money it hands out was not meant 
to provide the majority of funding for each agency indefinitely.

"The ultimate goal is to wean some groups away from this money to make room 
for new ones to benefit, Roberts said. "But I do understand some agencies 
being unhappy about losing money."

Less money and more need are making it hard for agencies to maintain their 
current level of services, they say, while additional programs are becoming 
nothing more than a pipe dream until funding increases at all levels.


mbolen@keysnews.com

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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA


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