Charity struggling to meet increased demand

Published 9:33 pm Monday, December 7, 2009

ForKids, a charitable organization fighting homelessness in Suffolk and surrounding communities, helped 526 people in October — but had to turn away hundreds more in need.

Like many other charitable organizations, ForKids is having trouble keeping up with the need in the community. With a half million dollars left to raise by Dec. 31, they are turning to the community for help.

“It’s a sad time here. While we’re doing more than we’ve ever done, we’re not able to keep pace with the need,” Thaler McCormick, executive director of ForKids, said. “When we lose the volume of money we did, we’re really just going to have to see if the community can step up to the plate.”

Since taking over the Suffolk shelter more than a year ago, they have seen their local and state funding cut, making it harder to meet the needs in a struggling economy.

“What’s happening to ForKids is happening to a lot of charities that serve communities of need,” McCormick said. “There is more need and far less resources to go around to meet that need.”

In the 14 years she has worked for ForKids, McCormick said, “I’ve never seen this level of need coming to our doors.”

ForKids focuses on “making a difference” and “not just being another cog in the wheel of poverty.” A tool that helps them accomplish their mission is educational resources for children. It is those resources, however, that have been cut.

“We have increasingly become a sheltering business. We’ve had to strip the resources that make a real difference,” she said. “We’re faced with just making sure families are safe, warm and fed.”

ForKids can provide monetary assistance for families to put a roof over their heads — but in many cases the families have nothing else. McCormick said there are families sleeping on towels in the middle of empty rooms.

“We need all kinds of help. Anything you need to run your house — we need to run our houses,” she said. They also need volunteers, tutors and a half million dollars. Without funding they will have to turn away more families and children this holiday season.

McCormick remains optimistic though.

“It can be done,” she said. “The community can link arms and support the others that need our help.”