211 of South Central Georgia needs help - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

211 of South Central Georgia needs help

November 18, 2003

Valdosta - A lack of funding and volunteers may cause a new South Georgia service agency to close its doors.

The calls are pouring in at 211 of South Georgia. "We put callers in touch with the services they need, from rental and utility assistance to health programs," said Karen Cotlow-Nolan, 211 Executive Director.

But their funding has hit rock bottom. "Our cash flow is at zero right now," said Costlow-Nolan. 211 survives off grants and donations. This year's is already gone, and next year's grant money won't come in until July 2004. "We've been approved for several grants that will help when they come in, but until then, we're between funding," said Jane Osborn, Associate Director.

Since the call center opened in June, agents have received more than 1,500 calls. But now that they're so short-handed, those calls are being answered by a machine. "It's really not good that we're having to do it this way because many of the people who call us are homeless and call from a pay phone, so we can't get back in touch with them to give them the assistance they need," said Costlow-Nolan.

And the few people who are keeping this agency running are working on a volunteer basis. Costlow-Nolan has been six months without a paycheck. "It's been hard, but I have a vested interest in this, and I know what a good service it is for people so I want to sit back and watch it go under," said Costlow-Nolan.

But with enough volunteers and financial assistance, she can keep her job and callers can continue to receive this much needed assistance.

posted at 2:45 by ashley.harper@walb.com