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Your Neighbors Need You, You CAN Help

September 23, 2009

Author: Terri Lee Freeman

Despite Ben Bernake’s claim that the recession is over, it is only deepening for many residents in our region and the nonprofits who serve them. Take, for example, the unfortunate circumstances facing WEAVE, Women Empowered Against Violence, reported in a Washington Post article The Washington Post Sunday, September 20. Faced with a significant cut in public funding, its board of directors made the decision to begin to shut down the organization. This decision must have been incredibly painful because the women WEAVE serves depend on them for life saving support.

In the words of Thomas Paine “these are the times that try men’s souls.” It is true that the money markets seem to be rebounding, but unemployment is up and the foreclosure crisis is far from over. Even those who are gainfully employed may find themselves furloughed for days at a time without any income. And although our region is faring better than say, the state of Michigan, the buffeting effect of living in a government town is of no consequence to those without enough food, or who fear the cold whether because they can’t afford to buy new coats for the kids, or for those who are living in their cars until they can “find a place.”

And where do these families find hope and assistance—nonprofit organizations like WEAVE, Northern Virginia Family Services and the Family Crisis Center of Prince Georges County. The strain on these safety net organizations facing cuts in public funding is significant. Some are hopeful that their private funding will see them through. But even those nonprofits that have seen private donations increase have seen such a rise in demand that, they’ve still had to decrease the services they deliver just to break even.

We know that 2010 has the potential to be a catastrophic year for many good nonprofit organizations. So what can we do? The Community Foundation is committed to helping maintain a safety net for those who need help. We established the Neighbors In Need Fund in late 2008 and to date have given over $1 million to safety-net organizations. But it is not enough. Yes, we’ve raised more than $3 million thanks to the generosity of individuals like you and other grantmaking organizations. But a third of that money has already gone back into the community. The need continues to grow as impending closure of WEAVE demonstrates and we must continue to grow the dollars available to help these organizations.

We can and must do more. Our neighbors need us now more than ever. You can be a part of the solution by supporting the Neighbors In Need Fund. By giving to Neighbors In Need you can ensure that the safety net stays strong and that your donation is going to organizations that are sustainable and providing necessary and important services. It’s easy. Click and donate. That’s it. Give whatever you can, no gift is too small. Your neighbors really need you.

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