United Way Gives $285K in Emergency Funds to Local Agencies
By Steve Gravelle and Dave Franzman, Reporters
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Five local service agencies are receiving $285,000 in emergency funds to help them cope with cuts in government money, officials from the United Way of East Central Iowa announced this morning.
"This is a bridge to help those agencies continue these programs for another year," said Lois Buntz, United Way president and CEO. "We saw this as a one-time funding option. We probably don't have the resources to do this ongoing."
Buntz said UWECI's board approved the allocations this morning:
$50,000 to the Area Substance Abuse Council's dual diagnosis program for mentally ill people with substance abuse problems.
$50,762 for Foundation 2's Mobile Crisis Outreach, provides counseling teams to help people cope with personal emergencies. The teams, which handled about 200 calls last year, often meet police at the scene of a domestic or other disturbance.
County funding for Mobile Crisis was cut as part of the state effort to reorganize mental health services, but Foundation 2 spokeswoman Elisabeth Kissling said agency officials expect it to be part of a new set of community-provided services.
$37,000 for the Abbe Center for Community Mental Health. Executive director Cindy Kaestner said $12,000 will restore funding for Club 520, the peer-run drop-in support center in northwest Cedar Rapids. The balance will keep Abbe's consultation outreach operating.
Club 520 lost its county funding with the new fiscal year July 1, but will receive a new grant when the federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1, "so this is true bridge funding," Kaestner said. The center sees 432 visitors a month.
Consultation outreach connects people with services before federal funding, usually Medicaid, for those programs has begun flowing. Kaestner said more than 1,500 people received the services last year.
Up to $150,000 to Horizons for its Meals on Wheels home-delivered meals program.
Dianna Young, Meals on Wheels director, said federal funding hasn't kept pace with demand, and the UWECI appropriation will head off the elimination of 55,000 meals. She said the program provides 800 meals a day, including those served at congregate sites, to 1,600 people in Linn County and about 820 in Benton and Iowa counties.
$47,250 for the Neighborhood Transportation Service.
Leslie Wright, UWECI's vice president for community building, said bridge money went to agencies that have either located or have a good chance of finding replacement funding.
"We are at a real crossroads," Wright said. "These funding cuts are a part of the change happening all around us. We need to work much more together to find solutions. The money isn't there in the same ways it was historically."
Buntz said UWECI's annual fall fundraising drive launches Sept. 6. Last year's campaign raised a record $10,581,000.
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