Rape-crisis center hit by fiscal crisis

April 07, 1994|By Melody Simmons and David Michael Ettlin | Melody Simmons and David Michael Ettlin,Sun Staff Writers

The Sexual Assault Recovery Center has asked for emergency grants from Baltimore City and the state and yesterday laid off several workers because of a financial crisis that threatened its ability to remain in business.

Government officials said the Baltimore nonprofit rape-crisis counseling center received a one-time emergency grant of $6,000 from the city Thursday, and was awaiting word on other financial help from the state Department of Human Resources.

Joyce Knox, a Baltimore lawyer who chairs the SARC board, did not return phone calls to comment on SARC's fiscal crisis yesterday. She had denied, after a two-hour board meeting behind closed doors Friday, that the center was in financial trouble and faced with layoffs. The center was "reorganizing," she said.

Denise Maker, director of the women's services program for DHR, said yesterday that the executive committee of the SARC board met with state officials Tuesday seeking the emergency grant.

The request was based on what members called "overambitious revenue projections" by then-Executive Director Cecelia Carroll, Ms. Maker said. Ms. Carroll resigned last week.

The center, located in the 2200 block of N. Charles St., operates on state and city grants as well as private donations. It receives more than $300,000 from the state each year for rape-crisis counseling.

Ms. Maker would not specify the amount of the emergency grant sought by the center, but said DHS Secretary Carolyn Colvin is expected to decide on the award this week.

"We are trying to be helpful," Ms. Maker said. "We are not panicked at the moment. They are an extremely concerned board and clearly assured us this situation is not a result of mismanagement."

Ms. Maker said the center was laying off its office staff because of the financial crisis.

One of those laid off yesterday was the center's part-time public relations coordinator, Maura W. Vonasek, who said she did not know how many others lost their jobs.

"Finding out there was some kind of financial crisis was a shock to everybody," the spokeswoman said.

The center's 24 staff members include therapists and crisis counselors, who visit rape victims in hospitals.

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