Links For Helping Those Less Fortunate
"Area nonprofits struggle as economy falters" --- December 07. 2002 ---Times-News article by staff writer Mark Todd
210 Ehringhaus Street
P O Box 2562
Hendersonville NC 28793-2562
(828)697-7029 Fax: (828)697-7015
Rescue Mission/Ministry Seven
639 Maple Street
P O Box 1512
Hendersonville NC 28793
(828)697-1354 Fax: (828)697-8114
origin of the “Christmas kettle”
239 Third Ave., E.
Hendersonville, NC 28792
The Salvation Army
P.O. Box 2387
Hendersonville, NC 28793-2387
Phone (828) 693-4181-2
Fax (828) 696-8641
202 4th Ave. East
3515 Asheville Hwy.
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Historical Downtown Hendersonville
|December 07. 2002
Area nonprofits struggle as economy falters
By Mark Todd
Times-News Staff Writer
North Carolina's struggling economy has put more pressure this year on residents of Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties who live from paycheck to paycheck.
Rising costs, increased joblessness and a lack of economic security threaten to make this holiday season a bleak one for many local residents.
Economic hardship has sent more residents to nonprofit agencies such as Hendersonville's Interfaith Assistance Ministry or the Hendersonville Rescue Mission in search of assistance. Their financial support behind expectations this year, those agencies are feeling the heat.
David Cook, director of IAM, has been impressed with how the economic downturn has affected local churches, whose members are strong supporters of the ministry.
"Older, retired folks (make up) the majority of members in a good number of local congregations. Many of them use their dividends and interest income to fund their annual pledges," Cook said.
"With economic downturn, they have had a difficult time fulfilling their pledges. Several congregations are significantly behind their annual budgets. This has affected their support to Interfaith. We are currently $36,500 behind in expected revenue from churches and church groups. That's fairly significant. We're conservative in our estimates," Cook said.
The sagging economy, local layoffs, the Ecusta and Agfa closures, losses of other good-paying jobs and the lack of affordable housing in Henderson County combine to make it difficult to survive here, Cook said.
He'll get no argument on that from Anthony McMinn, director of the Christian-based Hendersonville Rescue Mission.
"We don't receive any federal and state money. It's made it harder on us. When people hurt financially, their giving goes down," he said. "We're feeling the brunt of that."
McMinn says giving to the mission is off by about 15 percent this fiscal year, which began July 1. "We're hurting and struggling, but we're going to trust God to provide," he said.
McMinn said "welfare reform has made a lot of (single) women homeless." Those women and their children find shelter in the mission, as do single men and even whole families.
The mission expanded last year into a new building next to its original complex on Maple Street.
Many of the clients at the shelter, which offers health care, meals and training programs, suffer not only from economic hardship but also mental illness, substance abuse or domestic violence, McMinn said.
Last year, the shelter provided 43,000 meals for hungry people, free of charge, and it housed 979 men, women and children.
According to estimates from the federal government, Cook said, more than 10,600 local residents live in poverty.
In Western North Carolina, low-paying service sector jobs have increased while manufacturing jobs have decreased, Cook said.
A single mother with two children working full time at minimum wage earns $10,712, leaving her $4,308 under the federal poverty line. She would need to make $13.16 an hour to meet the Living Income Standard for Henderson County, Cook said.
Currently, one-third (1.1 million) of families in North Carolina have annual incomes lower than the LIS, Cook said.
Cook said that as he talks with his staff and volunteers, he finds general agreement that a good number of Henderson County residents really don't know what a difficult time many low-income people are having just to avoid becoming homeless and indigent.
He said IAM recently saw a 30-year-old man with four children aged 6 months, 2, 6 and 10. His wife is at home with the baby and 2-year-old. They rent a small mobile home. For the past six years the father has struggled to keep the family on its feet financially.
The father works construction jobs and agricultural jobs, sometimes holding down two jobs at a time. When the weather is bad, he is out of work, and one or two weeks of no work equal a financial crisis for this family, Cook said.
Interfaith has helped with heating assistance, food and clothing a number of times. One might think this case is an exception, but unfortunately, it is not, Cook said.
Cook said IAM is seeing growing numbers of clients in financial crisis that have health, psychological, financial, marital and parent-child challenges that are overwhelming them.
"It is frustrating for our volunteers that our resources are so limited," Cook said.
From April through October of this year, Cook said, IAM clients requested a total of $181,878 in cash assistance. IAM was able to provide only $56,530.
The agency also provides food, clothing and referral to partner agencies such as the Salvation Army and Department of Social Services.
"We think that in some small way we help keep people on their feet and save them from falling through the cracks, becoming homeless and indigent," Cook said.
"Also, we fill an important niche by helping individuals who don't meet the strict eligibility requirements for welfare programs supported by our tax dollars," Cook said.
IAM is the Henderson County administrator for Share the Warmth funds.
Duke Energy will match up to $50 for each contribution to this fund from its customers and distribute this money to organizations to use for heating assistance.
The ministry has a food pantry, clothing closet, firewood, planned giving programs and a constant need for volunteers.
The problem faced in Hendersonville is also being seen at many other agencies near and far.
"The nonprofits are telling us that they're really feeling it. It's a problem across the nation, and there's a prevailing fear that the situation may worsen," said Suzanne Coffman, spokeswoman for GuideStar, a Williamsburg, Va.-based group that assists and monitors charitable organizations.
GuideStar's survey of more than 2,700 nonprofit groups and private foundations found that donations through October are down from last year for nearly half the groups. Another 22 percent said their contribution levels had remained about the same.
"People will call us and say, `I'm sorry I can't give as much as I did last year,"' said E.J. Underwood, development director with the Charlotte Rescue Mission. "The compassion is there. The finances are not there."
The increased need is cutting across demographics more deeply than it has in the past, officials say.
"We're seeing more middle-class people come through our doors who have lost their jobs and are here for the first time," said Patrick Graham, director of emergency financial assistance with Charlotte's Crisis Assistance Ministry.
"It's a very scary situation for them. One they have never been in before," Graham said.
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Historical Downtown Hendersonville