Family Service Center needs funding

Published on Thu, Mar 6, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

Read More News

Family Service Center needs funding

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

The Family Service Center has been helping struggling families for years. But now the center finds itself in a struggle of its own. Amid growing problems with grant funding, the center is experiencing financial uncertainty, and for the first time is resorting to fundraising and increased dependence on community contributions.

�What this moment is about right now is money,� director Leaf Schumann said. �This is like Cinderella and we�re pushing midnight. You can not overestimate how bleak it is. It�s a bloodbath.�

The center, which provides numerous community assistance programs, has been funded through grants since its inception six years ago. Until now, the center hasn�t had to struggle financially. �Just as we�re getting good at it, we�re at risk,� secretary Larissa Dhanani said.

The center has been largely funded through two programs, Readiness to Learn and 21st Century, but both have been cut dramatically. One has been cut so much it�s no longer in existence. �The Readiness to Learn has been cut totally from the system,� Schuman said, noting it�s a state program. �We cannot apply for it if it doesn�t exist.� And as for the 21st century federal grant, the center is doubtful of its potential, as President Bush is cutting the program by 40 percent.

Cuts in state and federal programs are forcing the service center, as well as many other community organizations, to dig deeper for funding opportunities. �Now there are more of us (service groups) going after limited funds,� family program coordinator Wendy Beardslee said.

Because of limited potential with grants, the center is resorting to fundraising efforts from scratch. �We�re not professional fund raisers. It�s really debilitating keeping yourself afloat when you really want to help people and make new progress,� Schumann said. �But the desperation is upbeat. This is the best working environment. The people we work with are wonderful.�

�We�re trying to get it (money) in bits and pieces,� Dhanani said, noting her family is even assisting in fund raising through a culinary gourmet class.

�Two months ago, I thought we truly might not exist. But we�ll exist in some form. I�m starting to see we have some power and control over our fate,� Schumann said.

According to the center, the Blaine area is growing and more families are in need of assistance services, but funding is decreasing. �The need here is growing and the money is going down. There would be a huge problem if we go down,� Beardslee said. �If we were to stop being here, then the community would have no other place to go. If we leave, where are they going to go next year?�

Because of the current economic situation, the center said even more people need assistance, especially in the Blaine area. �It�s an impressive community phenomenon. Our location to the border seems to bring phenomenon (differences) to the area. It makes it different,� Schumann said. �We�ve got a lot of people coming into town and they�ve got nothing. We do a pretty brisk business in human pain and suffering.�

For those interested in making a donation to the center, or are looking for more information, call 332-7179.