• 41°

Plenty of chances to help your neighbor

Making a difference starts at home, and Suffolk residents don’t need to look far to find places to make a difference this year.

Several community organizations have endured a very public struggle this year to find the funding they need to continue their worthwhile work. ForKids, Inc. and the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad, especially, have been featured in the pages of this paper with pleas for extra money. The organizations are having trouble maintaining the same level of service they always have provided to the community because of falling support from all levels of government and the private sector.

In the case of ForKids, the organization operates several homeless shelters in Norfolk and Suffolk. ForKids aims to break the cycle of homelessness by providing more than just a temporary roof over a family’s head. While families in need are under their roof, they provide services — such as training in resume-writing, interviews, budgeting, healthy relationships and more — with the goal of correcting the problems that led to the family becoming homeless in the first place.

However, with the fiscal year ending Wednesday, the organization is in need of about $99,000 more to meet its goal. If it doesn’t, programs and services could be in danger, executive director Thaler McCormick told me last week. In addition to helping parents correct problems, the organization offers children’s services, like tutoring, to help prepare the entire family for self-sufficiency.

Another organization that has struggled recently is the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad. After serving the community for 50 years, the squad’s city funding was cut in half, forcing it into a financial tailspin that, a representative admitted at a council meeting, could result in the squad shutting down.

Both organizations, and many others who have been less vocal about their need, are suffering from a confluence of problems — decreasing funding from government, decreasing funding from individuals and increasing need for their services. All three can be tied to the tough economic times the region has seen lately.

Suffolk residents can make a difference this week by looking carefully at their household budgets, finding any money they can spare and donating it to a community service organization. Whether it is ForKids, the rescue squad or some other group, I’m sure the money will be put to good use for the good of the community.

For those who simply can’t spare any money, these organizations sure could use your time, your in-kind donations or, at the very least, your prayers.