Nonprofits add their own economic impact to community

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2002

Even the United Way agency with the smallest budget has an impact on the local economy. That’s what directors of the charitable orgnizations say as they prepare for a busy holiday season when many of their services are stretched to the limit.

For some agencies, such as The Salvation Army, the Christmas season provides some of their most important donations and assistance. For others, such as the Guardian Shelter for Battered Families, the holidays may thrust more clients toward their haven.

For all, however, the success of a United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou campaign that seeks $500,000 from local contributors is vital. “The United Way is very important to us,” said Capt. Geraldine Martin of The Salvation Army. “We would not want to try to provide all our social services without the United Way.”

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The importance of a successful United Way goes much further than simply – but surely most important – how many people benefit from the services funded by the annual campaign, said Martha Mitternight of Catholic Charities, sponsor of the Guardian Shelter.

“I think it’s important for people to know that one dollar of United Way money turns into four or five dollars,” she said. “And that money stays right here.”

Helping people to live more successful and productive lives is the aim of many of the agencies, such as the Girl Scouts, the Court Appointed Special Advocate program of Youth Court, 4-H Clubs and others.

As United Way allocations work to support federal and state grants, money grows for agencies eligible for those grants. As the agencies make purchases, pay for services and hire professionals, the funds continue to turn around in the economy, said Monica Lynch, executive director of the local United Way.

“The gifts stay local, helping people in our own community,” she said. “We can’t emphasize enough that 98 percent of donations stays in Adams County and Concordia Parish.”

Several agencies, such as The Salvation Army, supplement their income through thrift shops. These shops, too, have an impact on the local economy.

“Proceeds from the thrift store roll over into the social services fund,” said Martin of The Salvation Army’s store, located on North Canal Street next door to the chapel and offices.

The shop, featuring clothing and furniture, is an important arm of The Army, she said. “The budget for the store is almost even with the corps program, but we do have expenses of employees and maintenance.”

At The Guardian Collection, 624 Franklin St., sale of used clothes and other items raises funds for the shelter and its programs.

“We have two paid employees and a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers,” Mitternight said. “We have used clothing and also some household items like rugs and drapes. It has been very successful.”

Mitternight said the shop income is accounted for separately, as is the case with The Salvation Army’s shop. “But it goes to purchase specific items or special costs of things not paid for by the grants.”

For all of the programs sponsored by Catholic Charities, local impact is noteworthy, Mitternight said.

“We buy our groceries, cleaning supplies and other supplies locally. It would be rare for us to buy anything outside the local area.”

Mary Ann Foggo Eidt, director of Pleasant Acre Day School, said the thrift shop operated by that agency has been successful in many ways.

“The most important thing is that it raises the money for us to take the children to the Arts Fair for the Handicapped every year in Biloxi,” she said. “But it also gives the children a chance to work. They actually help in the shop every Friday morning, and it gives them a learning experience.”

The funds also provide an opportunity for the whole school to eat out once a month.

“We buy everything locally,” she said. “We fill our van with gas. Each week parents are responsible for buying our snacks and paper supplies. They buy locally, too.”

All the agencies said contributions from individuals as well as from clubs and organizations helped to keep them going, especially at the thrift shops.

“We really appreciate our donors and the civic clubs that support us,” Eidt said. &160;