Mid-south non-profits struggle to stay afloat as need grows - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Lori Brown

Mid-south non-profits struggle to stay afloat as need grows

The Mid-South's major non-profits that provide emergency services for Mid-southerners in need are scheduled to meet next week to discuss how they will survive during the economic downturn.
    
As times get tougher, the agencies are concerned about how they'll keep providing for people like Rhonda Lathan.

"I came here with five dollars in my pocket and a suitcase filled with rags. Now I have so many clothes I don't know where to put them," said Lathan.
    
Lathan says the Salvation Army helped her overcome a 20-year addiction to crack.

"I'm working now. I just got my own place and I'm moving out of here Monday," she said. 
 
The Salvation Army's donations are down 11 percent. Mid-southerners hit with high food and gas prices aren't able to give as much.

"It is a reality check for us. The economy is affecting us," said Mark Woodcock with the Salvation Army. "Most people don't realize, but most of our donors are everyday people."

And like the donors who are struggling, the Salvation Army says its cost for food is up 20 percent and utility costs are up 10 percent.
   
Woodcock says these hard times forced the organization to lay off four employees.
    
All this is happening at the time people most need shelter in Memphis, during the hot summer months when the heat can be deadly.

"Month of July and August is critical for us," said Woodcock. "We're overflowing and over capacity. We have people sleeping on the floor trying to avoid the heat."
    
The Salvation Army says if more donations don't come in, it may have to turn away people like Lathan.
    
Lathan says The Salvation Army helped turn her life around, and she intends to keep moving forward.
 
"I'm not going back there," she said.


Click here to e-mail Lori Brown.
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