Horizon package to help 6 groups

Foundation provides 2-tier grants to nonprofits of funds, matching money

Horizon Foundation aids 6 nonprofit groups

Howard County

December 03, 2003|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

With donations falling but needs rising, six Howard County nonprofits are getting a two-tiered rescue package of grants from the Horizon Foundation, which scheduled a news conference today at Oakland Manor to announce them.

Horizon, created out of the merger of Howard County General Hospital with Johns Hopkins Medicine, is distributing $256,500 to six organizations deemed vital for people in crisis. Another $250,000 will be available to match the increased private and corporate donations that Horizon President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Krieg hopes will result.

"These six organizations - we all depend on these organizations when the going gets tough," Krieg said. "We met with the board chairs and the executive directors and talked a lot about hard times and what they needed to become more sustainable. Any one of us could find ourselves in need of these safety net providers."

The grants come at a time when charitable giving is in decline nationally because of the troubled economy.

Henry W. Bogden, director of the Maryland Association of Non-Profit Organizations, said many in the field report they are experiencing "the perfect storm, with appeals for help going up and resources going down."

County government hasn't decreased its grants, but it hasn't been able to increase them.

"It's always very valuable when you have a community resource [Horizon] that can help during hard times," said Manus J. O'Donnell, director of the county Department of Citizen Services, the agency that disburses county grants.

Krieg said Horizon is "not there to supplant government or United Way funds. We are there to make these organizations as resilient as they can be."

For Howard's Domestic Violence Center, which will receive $75,000 plus $45,000 for matching donations, the help is vital for dealing with consecutive annual increases in clients of 20 percent and 31 percent, while United Way donations dropped 40 percent, said Judy Clancy, the center director.

"We've had a steady increase in the number of people coming for help," she said. "It's really put a strain on our staff."

The money from Horizon allowed the hiring of a client services coordinator to do all the computer statistical work that had burdened clinical staff members for years, she said.

Pam Mack, director of the Health Alliance Clinic in Columbia, which provides free health care, said the $64,500 it is receiving will help pay for eye examinations and glasses for children, and medicines and tests for diabetics who have no insurance and rely on the donated medical services at the clinic. The alliance can get $65,000 more in matching funds.

"These are programs we could not do without that money," she said, noting that Lenscrafters, an optical company, is also donating glasses.

Andrea Ingram, director of Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, said the $9,000 for her group is vital in satisfying new state and federal requirements for collecting information on homelessness and the youth crisis hot line. Another $20,000 is available in matching money.

"These requirements are out there, but they didn't come with any funding," though Grassroots lost $40,000 in United Way funds. "We needed a computer, software and a server."

Horizon is giving $41,000 to the Sexual Trauma, Treatment, Advocacy and Recovery Center for office equipment, plus $40,000 in matching funding; $47,000 to the Foreign-born Information and Referral Network (FIRN), plus $50,000 in matching money; and $20,000 for an automated billing system and equipment upgrades for Family and Children's Services of Howard County, plus $30,000 for matching.

For clients who have insurance, electronic billing will help Family and Children's Services get faster and more efficient reimbursement, which will help offset costs into the future, said executive director Stan Levi.

A paid volunteer coordinator is vital for FIRN, said Executive Director Roy Appletree, because without one for the past year "our tutoring program began to decline.

"If you don't have a structured program, it's not fair to the client or the volunteer," Appletree said. And without someone to schedule and minister to the volunteers, they feel badly treated and drift away.

"We're hoping we can get matching money," he said.

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