UW partner agencies can't make cuts despite funding decrease - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

UW partner agencies can't make cuts despite funding decrease

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Forty-two United Way partner agencies are still trying to determine what a major cut in United Way funding will mean for their organizations.

Tuesday, the United Way told agencies their donations are down so much, they'll only be able to hand out half the money the non-profit groups expected. Wednesday many agencies were scrambling to figure out what that will mean for their just completed budgets.

Girls Inc receives about a quarter of their budget from the United Way and they've just started into their busiest season. It's just the second week of their summer camps and more than 100 families are counting on their services. That's why they say right now they can't cut services, but sooner or later something may have to give.

Girls Inc. director LaKisha Bryant doesn't want to think what could happen to the 100 girls if they weren't enrolled in summer programs at their three centers, learning the importance of reading, math and science, and how to avoid gangs and drugs.

"Investing in them on this end with what we know we do here at Girls Inc. is far greater a return than having a girl not be in a structured environment, becoming a teen mother, becoming addicted to alcohol and drugs, and tobacco, becoming involved in a gang," said LaKisha Bryant, Girls Inc. Executive Director.

The non-profit group has tightened its belt over the last year and can't raise fees for parents. The last thing they want to do is cut services but board members may have no other choice.

"I don't think we will be operating in the same way this fall. We're going to have to make some serious cuts or alterations, I'm not in a position to say how," said Karen Wakeford, Girls Inc. Board of Trustees President.

It's the same situation for the American Red Cross branch which must respond or face a reprimand from their national office when a fire or severe weather leaves people in need.

"We have to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week we have to," said Mari Wright, Southwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross Executive Director.

Their donations are also down and right now is the toughest time for organizations to try and reach out to the community for help.

"In the summer people are focused on vacations, school being out, taking trips whatever they're not focused on the normal things, donations, be it blood donations or a check," said Wright.

Many organizations today said they'll look towards applying for more grants to help make up the missing funds, but even that financial resource is shrinking with cut backs in state and federal spending. It's got many hoping those who can give a donation, will.

Girls Inc's Executive Board has called an emergency meeting for next week to discuss how the organization will continue to fund its five day a week camps for the rest of the summer.

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