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Sixteen nonprofit agencies ask for town support in 2012

Recession brings greater demand for services while donations decline

September 29, 2011
WOLFEBORO — Sixteen nonprofit organizations serving Wolfeboro residents presented their 2012 funding requests to the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen on Sept. 21.

The requests are submitted as part of the processing of building the 2012 town budget. Town Manager Dave Owen has already received proposed budgets from town departments, and selectmen will spend the month of October reviewing the submissions line-by-line before passing on a completed budget draft to the town's Budget Committee for its review beginning in November.

As a planning guideline for 2012 selectmen had asked all those submitting funding requests, including nonprofit agencies, to reduce the proposed budget by one percent from the amount approved for 2011. While some of the agencies did ask for less in 2012, the best most could do was ask for no increase over 2011 and there was one request for an increase. Three of the 16 requests were also from agencies which had not received funding from the town before. The total assistance requested for 2012 was $114,458, up $6,084 or 5.61 percent from the $108,374 approved for 2011.

Agency requests

The first presentation was from Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice, the former VNA-Hospice of Southern Carroll County and Vicinity, which merged with Community Health & Hospice of Laconia in 2010. Bette Coffey, Branch Manager of the Wolfeboro Office submitted a request for $22,000 for 2012, which was $453 less (2 percent) than the budget approved for 2011. The request is based on the projected number of visits (5,768) plus the amount of "unrecoverable service billings" for town residents.

Coffey said her biggest concern was what might happen to health care funding since 80 percent of the agency's funding comes from billings to Medicare.

Also requesting lower funding for 2012 was Starting Point: Services for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence. Executive Director Suzette Indelicato said the decrease was based on a lower number of victims from Wolfeboro that the agency helped. She cautioned that, sadly, a decrease does not necessarily mean fewer victims but could mean fewer are reaching out for help with domestic and sexual violence. Starting Point provided 34 Wolfeboro residents with 343 services during the period July 2010-June 2011. The request for 2012 is $1,751, down $787 from the $2,538 approved for 2011.

Only one existing agency asked for a budget increase: Medication Bridge, a volunteer service that helps patients secure lower cost prescription medications, increased its request from $1,034 to $1,492. Volunteer Coordinator Jack Drinkwater explained that the funding request is based on the value of medications received by Wolfeboro residents and that last year "the funds fell way short" so that he and his wife had to make up the deficit. Most of the cost is for proprietary software that costs $4,000 a year. The group is now serving 297 people, up significantly from two years ago. Drinkwater said it used to be all Medicare patients but now most of the people helped are young. From January through June the group has secured 1,691 prescriptions valued at $824,838; 26 percent of clients are from Wolfeboro and volunteers donate 2,300 hours each year.

Of the remaining 13 agencies, ten requested level funding with 2010 and three had never requested support from the town previously.

The Appalachian Mountain Teen Project (AMTP) submitted a 2012 with no increase over the $2,400 approved in 2010 and the same amount the agency has requested since 2007. Dave Lynch, who became Director of AMTP on June 1, said budget cutting was affecting everyone, including AMTP. The teen enrichment organization receives no funding from the state but relies on contributions from the towns served, charities and donation. A total of 81 Wolfeboro youth were served through the agency's three programs: 1) the Teen Project, where counselors meet with teens on a one-on-one basis and there are summer outings; 2) the Diversity Program where AMTP staff go into schools to talk about tolerance and hold Bridges Day to help sixth graders in the school district get ready for moving to Kingswood Regional Middle School; and 3) the Communication Program where outside experts are brought in to make presentations about issues that affect teens, such as the program on cyberbullying offered in March this year.

Wolfeboro Area Meals on Wheels also requested the same $9,000 approved for last year. According to Treasurer Cheryl Dempsey, the meals service added clients from The Ledges last year and 86 percent of clients are Wolfeboro residents, with 40 served each month. The agency is also increasing its fundraising activities.

Wolfeboro Area Children's Center Executive Director Susan Whiting explained that the $20,000 requested the same as last year went toward tuition assistance for Wolfeboro residents. The year 2010-11 was a tough one for the Center, with the state eliminating all tuition assistance, lower enrollments and the need to reduce employee hours. Even with increased fundraising it is difficult to keep programs afloat, Whiting said.

Paula Abraham of Tri-County Community Action Program said 186 Wolfeboro households (386 residents) received $184,670 in assistance in 2010-11, most of it in the form of heating oil assistance. The agency also provides weatherization help and donates USDA surplus food to area food pantries. The 2012 request is the same $5,000 as 2011.

Jane Batchelder spoke for L.I.F.E. Ministries Food Pantry, saying the number of Wolfeboro residents served increased to 411 in 2011 vs. 300 in 2010. Despite that increase the $11,000 requested is the same as 2011. More than $140,000 in food and household supplies are distributed annually. Donations of produce grown in the Town Garden this year made a big difference in the freshness of food offered, Batchleder said.

Kingswood Youth Center is also requesting the same amount of support, $5,000, for its after-school programs for students in the Governor Wentworth Regional School District. Executive Director Linda Matchett said 35 percent of the students served come from Wolfeboro.

Northern Human Services Mental Health Center served 148 Wolfeboro residents with more than 851 hours of service, according to Eve Klotz, Clinical Director. The amount requested, $7,449, is the same as 2011. The agency is running a deficit in 2011 due to state budget cuts, despite laying off 10 employees. Also, in February 2012 there will be a payment cap of $290 a month per patient.

Rev. Randy Dales, Pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church, spoke as Treasurer on behalf of Wolfeboro Senior Meals and Wolfeboro Dinner Bell. Funding requests are the same as approved in 2011: $15,000 for the Senior Meals and $5,000 for Dinner Bell. The Senior Meals are served at noon three times per week, and over the past year 2,360 meals were served in 96 sittings. The Dinner Bell is a weekly meal served from September to June at the church; more than 800 were served in the past year, with 90 percent coming from Wolfeboro. Rev. Dales stressed that both meals, served at the church, are about more than food. Both services provide space for seniors to socialize. "We owe this generation our support," he said.

Caregivers of Southern Carroll County and Vicinity provides drivers to get patients to medical appointments. The $2,500 requested (same at 2011) is mainly to reimburse mileage costs for volunteer drivers (40 cents a mile over 25 miles) and pay for phone service. Of the 834 rides arranged by Caregivers from January through June 2011, 567 were for Wolfeboro residents.

New agency requests

American Red Cross made a first request for funding, asking for $2,866, based on 45 cents per capita and a population of 6,368. Red Cross provides disaster assistance, runs blood drive and trains medical assistants. No specific details were provided for Wolfeboro andno one was present to answer questions.

Carroll County Transit was represented by Director Ted LaLiberte. The first half of the service, on-demand transit, is up and running, and the Blue Loon buses can be seen every day around Wolfeboro. Of the 4,800 riders, 330 were from Wolfeboro. The agency is requesting $3,000. Riders are asked to contribute and some pay more than the fare.

Selectman Dave Senecal, who is on the transit board, explained that the fixed-route buses are not operational yet because NHDOT has not approved the routes. Because this part of the system is not yet operational, there have been rides that the on-demand buses have been unable to provide. Rev. Dales pointed out that at present Caregivers picks up the people CC Transit is unable to accommodate, and asked to see statistics on who hasd been served and who has not.

LaLiberte pointed out that the buses are available to senior groups.

The last new nonprofit requesting funds for the first time was First Night Wolfeboro, which is asking for $1,000. Co-Chair Pat Manning explained that, because of the economy, the annual event has lost sponsors and individual donors. Even though it is an arts event, First Night Wolfeboro hires local artists and draws outsiders into town. Besides, "we all need happy time a time to smile and have a great day."

Varney Smith
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