Many nonprofit organizations thrive despite economy

As the economy continues to worsen, more and more people are looking for help, and many of them are turning to nonprofit organizations. Shirley Woessner, director of the BG Christian Food Pantry said last January the Pantry gave away food to 190 people. This January they helped 370 people, an almost 200 percent increase. The pantry is not running out of food, though. While more people are looking for food, more people are also giving it. Woessner said the Food Pantry has seen an increase in both volunteers and donations this year. ‘People do food drives a lot over the holidays and after the holidays they usually let up,’ she said. ‘Well, they didn’t this year. People are just very giving. They dig into their pockets and into their hearts.’ Woessner said the Food Pantry has been around for 25 years and, even with the economic struggles, she thinks they will be around for at least another 25. She said if the situation continues to get worse they might have to adapt their giving policy, but they will still be there to give something. ‘Even if we can’t give as much at least we’re there for people,’ she said. ‘We can give them a little bit even if we get down to the bare necessities.’ Chris Diefenthaler, director of the Wood County Red Cross District, said the Red Cross is also holding its own. ‘I think in these times people are really kind of digging deeper, knowing that a lot of people are in need,’ she said. Diefenthaler said along with monetary donations, the Red Cross is also seeing more volunteers than usual. ‘If they can’t give back financially they’re thinking maybe they can give back some of their time,’ she said. ‘ Diefenthaler said one of the reasons the Red Cross is doing okay is because they focus on emergency needs. She said people have less money to give and they are directing it toward the most urgent causes. Other agencies that focus on less immediate problems might not be doing so well, she said. Jamie Fairbanks, assistant shelter manager for the Wood County Humane Society, said his is one of the organizations not doing so well. He said donations to the humane society are coming in smaller amounts and there are also fewer volunteers because more and more people are trying to get second jobs. Fairbanks said he has no idea what’s going to happen in the future, but for right now the Humane Society is just trying to handle the money they do have more carefully. ‘We’re trying to really watch how we use our resources,’ he said. ‘Everything we buy we try to be really careful about how it’s allocated.’ However, whether they’re doing well or just barely hanging on, Bill Thompson, pastor of the United Christian Fellowship, said all nonprofit organizations have one thing in common; their situation is going to get worse. ‘Think is not even the proper word,’ Thompson said. ‘I know. We’re just starting to see the problems.’ Thomson said most nonprofit organizations have already raised their money for the next year or two, so they will be ok for a while, but the real effects of the financial crisis will come when that money runs out. ‘The foundations just aren’t going to have any money to give out,’ he said.