No where else for needy to turn
Before June 30, when cuts made by the Buena Vista County board of supervisors to non-mandated services go into effect, Upper Des Moines Opportunity, Inc., will be looking for another finger to put in the dike.
UDMO, serving the poor in a 12-county area in Northwest Iowa, was one of the agencies hardest hit during this year's budget negotiations, losing $2,000 from last year's appropriation from BV County alone. And, for the agency which is often all there is between eating or going hungry, and sometimes the only thing keeping a roof over a family's heads, the loss may mean some tough choices.
UDMO's executive director Larry Rohert said Wednesday that he is fully aware of what the counties around the region his organization serves are going through, but the agency remains committed to its mission.
"We have always enjoyed support from Buena Vista County - we know the tough situation the counties are in," Rohert said. "They are facing tight budgets all over the state and region and they have to make tough decisions. This is one of the toughest budgetary years I've seen in the 12-county region we serve."
Rohert said that UDMO will probably hold some additional fundraisers as one way it will attack the loss of funding.
"We will look at our costs and places where we can shave," Rohert said. "And we will be hoping we won't see any reduction is service to the communities we serve."
In Storm Lake, where UDMO runs the food pantry, among the other services it provides to people in need, Joan Spooner said that the local office will try to continue to operate the same programs as it has in the past and will probably try to have a fund raisers to make up the loss.
"It's hard to understand but everyone is in a bind," Spooner said. "That doesn't stop the utilities and rent bills from coming in and going up."
In Storm Lake, UDMO provides weatherization prog-rams, emergency assistance for families facing disconnect and eviction notice, family development and low-income home energy assistance to help pay on heating bills. UDMO also offers Headstart in Buena Vista County.
Rohert said that UDMO will be making some internal changes and reallocation of funding within the organization so it will be able to continue to provide needed services in the communities of Northwest Iowa.
"We're probably going to be holding some fundraisers this year," he said. "More than usual. Everything is on the table but I want to reiterate, we're not looking at a reduction in services."
Spooner said that Storm Lake would probably be thinking along the same lines - holding more than it's Labor Day garage sale and its annual raffle.
"I'll be working on this, as everyone in the agency will be, to make up for this loss," Spooner said. "We may think about running another raffle."
Spooner said the prize for the annual raffle comes from local merchants.
"Last year it was a basket of prizes worth more than $300," Spooner said. "Tyson, Wal-Mart, Paxtons and others donated merchandise and gift certificates. It was a great prize."
Spooner said the annual garage sale is from the UDMO warehouse and merchandise from 'Ridiculous Days.'
"We have made from $6,000 to $12,000 from the garage sale." Spooner said. "And Paxtons helped out late last year by raffling of chances on some diamond earrings. The chances were purchased with food items. That really helped."
Spooner added only half jokingly that the agency also accepted cash donations.