Delays in the annual allocation of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for emergency rent, utilities and food and for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program has service agencies across the country struggling to meet needs in their communities.
At Good Samaritan Ministries, the shortage has been compounded by a shortfall in contributions to its back-to-school and summer food distributions that took a $29,000 chunk out of the benevolence and food assistance funds, and by construction to alleviate downtown flooding that for several months blocked the main entrance to the ministry’s Heaven Sent Thrift Store.
On the plight the delays in federal funding are causing, Good Samaritan Executive Director Sarah Wells said, “I’ve talked about it with (United Way President and CEO) Lester (Lattany), and everybody’s hurting. There’s still no FEMA funds and those are usually released in February.”
“The emergency shelter funds for rent and utilities that usually come on July 1 are supposed to be here Oct. 1,” Wells said, but that delay goes back much farther. “Those are the funds that were allocated for 2011. We’ve been told the 2012 funds will come in March and 2013 funds will come in July. Many agencies depend on those funds to help people who are suffering through that.”
At Good Samaritan, donations for the last of three monthly summer food distributions for 600 area families with children who receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year fell considerably short of the cost of the early August distribution.
“People forget that one and that’s not unusual,” Wells said. But with the absence of this year’s round of federal funding, “We used what we had and now we have nothing to go grocery shopping with.”
While Good Samaritan’s back-to-school project is off to a healthy start early this year with $3,000 in contributions from Johnson City’s Noon Rotary Club and the International Rotary Foundation, $1,300 raised by local Eagle Scout Conner Counts and a huge season-end closeout discount from local Walmart stores, the ministry’s drive for donations to outfit more than 1,900 local children in need for back to school also fell short.
“We received about $10,000 but the total cost of the two programs (back to school and Summer Food for August) was $39,000 and we broke our budget,” Wells said.
“There’s nothing in our benevolence or food account and we need help to go grocery shopping, even at Second Harvest,” where feeding agencies and pantries pay pennies on the dollar to help meet shipping fees on food purchased by the food bank by the tractor-trailer load.
Food donated or collected locally in food drives for Second Harvest is distributed at no cost to the 200 local agencies the food bank assists. For anyone who would like to help meet the need, the Feeding America food bank network’s national Hunger Action Month campaign begins Saturday, making September an ideal time to conduct a food drive for Second Harvest, Good Samaritan or for any community based agency that distributes food directly to people in need.
To help Good Samaritan make up the shortage in its food and emergency rent and utility assistance funds, donations to the ministry earmarked for “food” or for “benevolence” may be made online at www.goodsamjc.org or by mail to P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605. More information about the need at Good Samaritan also is available online or may be obtained by calling 928-1958.
The Southern Appalachia Guest House will host its sixth-annual benefit golf tournament Sept. 17 at the Johnson City Country Club.
Proceeds from the tournament will be used for construction of a new hospital guest house on property donated adjacent to Johnson City Medical Center. The current guest house is located on the campus of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home. It is aging and without adequate bathroom and handicapped-accessible amenities to meet the needs of the many people from outside the area who come here to be with loved ones receiving care at the hospitals.
Registration for the golf tournament will begin at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 17 at the club. Lunch will be provided by Chick-fil-A and prizes will be awarded, including a Mazda 3 for a hole-in-one and additional Senior Tournament prizes for four-person teams with a combined age of 240 years or more.
The registration fee is $75 per golfer. All proceeds will go to the drive to build the new house, which is now about $100,000 away from the amount needed to begin construction.
To register or for more information about the tournament, call Jane Conley at 282-2136 or email email@example.com.
For more information about the guest house, including an opportunity to donate online, visit www.hospitalguesthouse.org. Donations may also be made by mail to Hospital Guest House, P.O. Box 3973, Johnson City, TN 37602.
If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at firstname.lastname@example.org, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.