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Columbus’ Sans Souci, a thrift store that also helps provide basic needs and programs for low-income residents, is in the midst of building monetary muscle among struggling residents.
In fact, that’s one reason the self-sufficiency-oriented nonprofit is among 15 local agencies seeing a slight boost to annual allocations from United Way of Bartholomew County.
Allocations from last year’s record $4 million campaign, the best per-capita in the state for the 11th-straight year, are being made to 26 member agencies operating 36 programs, plus a range of other donor-designated programs.
The local United Way’s executive committee declined to detail agency-by-agency allocations but provided an overview of funding totals by category.
Building solid foundations
United Way of Bartholomew County’s emphasis on financial stability through its current allocations will:
Provide more than 3,400 residents with adequate food, clothing and shelter.
Ensure that more than 1,200 children start school on equal footing with their peers by receiving backpacks filled with
necessary school supplies.
Ensure that more than 340 residents receive temporary or emergency shelter.
The biggest chunk of allocations is $813,000 for agencies promoting emotional health and well-being, such as Family Services of Bartholomew County and Turning Point Domestic Violence Services. But the biggest boost over 2013 distributions, at 15 percent, is for financial stability and independence facilitated through agencies such as Sans Souci, located at 1526 13th St. in Columbus.
Funding to boost financial stability for next year was set at $330,000, going toward job-related needs including transportation.
Overall, United Way agencies lead senior wellness classes, fund youth sports, aid mentoring programs and rescue the struggling and abused, among other programs that each year touch an estimated 25,000 people — about a third of the county, according to the United Way.
“We’ve always been doing parts of the financial stability help, but now we want to be able to measure outcomes,” said Sheryl Adams, executive director of Sans Souci, which in French means “without worry.”
The agency’s new full-time assistant director, Erika Hesler, already is devising a plan to measure the impact of Sans Souci programs on people. Her position, a new one for the nonprofit that gets up to 17 percent of its budget from United Way, is key to making that happen.
Hesler, hired in July partly from a slight increase from 2012 United Way funds, also will help boost Sans Souci’s job-training program. The nonprofit is among local employers willing to hire workers with felonies related to offenses such as drugs and thefts. Those workers stock, sort and display items at the Sans Souci thrift store, 1526 13th St.
The store funds the bulk of the Sans Souci budget, which supports 20 part- and full-time
Workers starting anew are key to the local United Way now because it is about to launch its new workforce program, Bartholomew County Works, by early next year.
Part of Bartholomew County Works’ mission will be to find entry-level jobs for those who regularly have lost jobs — providing job coaches to help people stay employed and become successful and sufficient with an eventual goal of earning an estimated $16- to $18-per-hour job within a few years.
That pay level has been identified as a living wage in Bartholomew County for families of three to four people, based on the United Way’s needs assessment released in February.
United Way President Mark Stewart said he understands that allocations are a sensitive issue with nonprofits often faced with tough competition for grants.
“But it’s important to remember that United Way is only one piece of the financial puzzle for agencies,” Stewart said.
Agencies working to improve education among children will get $674,000, up about 8 percent over last year, Stewart said. Those initiatives include reading programs, early childhood care and summer camps, for example.
Besides Sans Souci, those agencies are Thrive Alliance, Childhood Connections, Children Inc., Community Center of Hope, Connected Community Partnerships, Developmental Services Inc., Family School Partners, Family Services of Bartholomew County, Foundation For Youth, Girl Scouts of America, Human Services Inc. and Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center.
Donor-designated dollars account for 34 percent — about $1.8 million — of local United Way allocations, including out-of-county or out-of-state designations.
An additional $600,000 in allocations goes separately to the Voluntary Action Center, AmeriCorps, United Way 211 and to United Way for overhead expenses, Stewart said.
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