South Georgia non-profits face more funding reductions - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia non-profits face more funding reductions

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Non-profit groups already struggling during the recession got some devastating news Tuesday. The United Way of Southwest Georgia told its partner agencies they'll only get half the money they expected this year.

Donations are down and the United Way just can't fulfill the need. This is just more bad news for those agencies to deal with on already hard times. Besides donations, many rely on the United Way for supplemental funding.

The beds at 304 West Second Avenue are empty in the daytime but at night they're full of people looking for a little salvation. "Not just people who are homeless but anybody in the community who needs a meal," said Captain Doug McClure.

The Salvation Army in Albany continues to see more people seeking that help. "We've seen increases in the dining room. We've seen increases in the shelters and increases in our social services," said McClure.

A big chunk of financial assistance for the Salvation Army to provide that help comes from the United Way. Last year they were allocated $70,000. Now that funding could be cut to $35,000.

"We are dependent on those funds and we are dependent on those allocations from the United Way and how much that supports our program," said McClure, "Obviously any kind of reduction from any source of funding is going to be difficult."

The Sowega Council on Aging has the same concerns. Both the Meals on Wheels and Retired Seniors Volunteer Programs operate with the help of United Way money. "We think they're both great programs and we hate that funding is going to be cut through United Way," said Council Director Kay Hind.

Meals on Wheels alone gets about $40,000 from United Way. "And if that's cut in half, that's a lot of meals," said Hind. The volunteer program gets about $20,000. "That's a very poor program. We barely have enough to operate and with this cut I'm not sure what we're going to do," said Hind.

But the United Way says they're struggling also. "Absolutely," said United Way of Southwest Georgia Director Dwayne Myles, "In the 2008 campaign, we took in approximately $400,000 less."

Since they're taking in less, their agencies will be affected. "We don't have a choice," said Myles. Myles says the backbone of their funding is workforce donations. With Cooper closing and Proctor and Gamble planning to lay off 300, it's only making those donations dwindle.

"In the past we've been able to rely heavily on our employees but with everyone reducing their workforce, it changes the whole game," said Myles. It's a game that will cause agencies like the Salvation Army to pull resources elsewhere.

"I have an income balance called faith. I have not only faith in my Lord Jesus Christ but faith in the people here in Albany that they will see the need and step up and we've seen that in all these years," said McClure. In all these years, this one is turning out to be the worst.

Myles says there's no way around it. This year is going to be tough but he's optimistic they'll get through it. He says they're going to have to come up with new ways to diversify their fundraising efforts.

The new fiscal year begins July 1st. Agencies say they were told they'd get half of their lower allocation then, followed by the rest six months later.

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