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Charities struggling to pay premium hikes

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May 5, 2004

Albany-- Non-profits are getting hit where it hurts.

"You know there is no answer, we won't have the money tomorrow for sure," says Stacey Odom-Driggers, Director of Flint River Habitat for Humanity. Charities are scrambling to pay for skyrocketing insurance.

Some South Georgia charities are getting insurance bills in the mail this week. They're finding that insurance costs have jumped, some as much as 50%. Now, they worry about how they'll pay the rising premiums.

Building homes is the number one priority for Flint River Habitat for Humanity. But, you can't ignore the bills, "People, when they give donations, they expect it to go toward the construction of homes, which is understandable. So, finding funds to pay for your overhead and insurance and other expenses is tough."

Sales from Habitat's Resell Store helps pay for some of the overhead, but with their worker's comp bill jumping 50%, it's not going to be enough, "My heart sank because you know we struggle any way to pay our bills. I think everyone is struggling right now. But, when you get a bill that doubles like that, you really just think where are we going to get this money? It's a problem."

The Salvation Army is facing the same problem--not only did their worker's comp rise by half, their other insurance bills increased 15% across the board. Major James Amburgey says, "Well, we have got to figure it out someway. We don't have the money in the budget right now for that but we are going to have to do something to get it."

These charities did not figure on such dramatic insurance hikes when planning their budget, but they are holding out hope, "The thing about this job that I have found that is so wonderful is that usually miracles come when you least expect them and need them so like I said we do a lot of praying and just hope for the best," says Odom-Driggers.

The charitable work will continue. Still, figuring out where to cut to pay for those high insurance bills will not be as easy. The Salvation Army in Albany is now considering moving the thrift store to a busier area. They hope the increased foot traffic will lead to more sales and help them pay those high bills.

Posted at 4:15 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com

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