Programs seeing United Way funding cuts look elsewhere

By Brittany Jones, Flagler County Reporter

Some of the programs that are losing out on funding by United Way of Volusia and Flagler Counties said they will soon feel the impacts of the cuts.

"If we don't feed them of the school, chances are they don't eat," said Joe Sullivan, chief professional officer of Boys & Girls Club of Volusia/Flagler Counties.

Sullivan stressed the importance of keeping the agency's doors open.

"A lot of the poor working folks, their kids come here, they can continue to work, make their mortgage payment, make the house payments," Sullivan said.

The Boys & Girls Club is like a second home during the day for more than 1,000 children in the Volusia-Flagler area, Sullivan said. That's why each dollar the organization has received from United Way for the last 24 years has counted.

"It's been a very significant source of revenue for us over that time, and we've been chipped in half," he said.

According to Sullivan, funding from United Way to the Boys & Girls Club went from $50,000 to $25,000 to fund each of its eight area clubs.

The organization is one of the 30 programs that were given United Way dollars under its new community impact model, which aligns the way funds are distributed and how the programs are classified.

"Now 1 percent from United Way, we have got to go out and find the rest," Sullivan said. "This is revenue that we can use where we need it to pay for utilities, to pay staff, to pay insurances."

Meanwhile, the American Red Cross of Florida's Space Coast, which provides services to the armed forces and disaster services to residents in Flagler, Volusia and Brevard counties, completely lost its bi-annual $120,000 in funding.

Funding for seven other agencies was also cut.

Rebecca DeLorenzo, executive director of the Space Coast chapter, said they are disappointed but are prepared to bounce back.

"Our service delivery will maintain its level — we never turn away anybody," DeLorenzo said. "We have that structure with American Red Cross that we can get resources from our national organization. We will look at increasing what we do as far as fundraising in our local chapters to make that difference."

Dennis Burns, CEO of United Way Volusia-Flagler, added: "In this year's agency-funding process, we had requests for $3.4 million ... and had only $1.4 million to give out. This is the first year we implemented an open, competitive request for proposal process. This means any charitable agency was able to submit a proposal focused on our areas of education, income and health in Volusia and/or Flagler counties. We had 53 programs apply and we were able to fund 30 of those programs. Due to limited resources, some programs received less than requested and others were not able to be funded at all."

Officials from American Red Cross and the Boys & Girls Club said they still plan to apply for the same funding in two years.

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