Genesis House, Good Samaritan of the Ozarks’ women’s shelter, held its most successful Women of Significance Luncheon to date, Saturday, selling 300 tickets to attend the annual event which is nearly double the number sold last year.
Unfortunately, due to government funding cuts, the money raised from the event will have to help cover the loss of several grant cuts the shelter has had this year. According to Good Samaritan of the Ozarks director Connie Chambers, shelters all over the country are experiencing losses in funding.
“Federal and state funding are being cut all over the country,” Chambers said.
Chambers estimated that the luncheon raised nearly $8,000 dollars this year, a final total is not available yet, which would normally go towards the shelter’s “For the Children Fund” and the costs of such things for the residents like car repairs, broken glasses, medical needs, and necessities. The “For the Children Fund” specifically covers the child residents extra needs such as shoes, items for school, and things that will help make their experience at the shelter “as positive as possible,” according to Chambers.
This year, a large portion of the money raised is probably going to have to go into operating costs due to budget cuts, Chambers reported.
The shelter receives a two year grant from the state that was cut by $24,000 and is anticipating an even larger cut in the next grant cycle. Chambers said she is expecting the state to cut funding for shelters by an additional $1 million in the next grant cycle and the federal cuts to be even more substantial.
“The Missouri Department of Public Safety Crime Victims Unit shows a rapid decline in funding available through the State Services to Victims Fund. For the 2011-2013 grant period, $8.6 million were available for distribution. For the 2013-2015 grant period, funding plummeted to $6.2 million, resulting in a 30% decrease in our funding from this grant alone,” Chambers said of another cut from a different grant.
When asked what this would mean for the shelter, Chambers said, “It means that, if we are going to continue to protect women and children, we are going to have to find other funding sources.”
Chambers said Good Samaritan was “dedicated” to finding ways to raise the money to cover the costs of maintaining the shelter and its other benevolent programs. She said they were tightening their belts and “depending on the generosity of the people in the Ozarks.”
The luncheon has become a popular event, as evidenced by the nearly $6,000 worth of tickets sold alone. In addition to the sale of tickets, attendees were able to donate money to buy items at the event, buy some items in a silent auction, and make private donations.
The luncheon is the organization’s opportunity to show the community what the shelter does and who it serves, according to Chambers. She said she was especially moved by the standing ovation three of the shelter’s residents received after having told their stories.
“Everybody has a story and everybody deserves dignity and respect,” Chambers said.
In addition to the women who told their stories during the luncheon, several local leaders spoke and special recognition was given to Don and Alma Tritten. The late Don Tritten and his wife, were instrumental in the creation of the Good Samaritan organization.
Chambers said that putting on events such as Women of Significance requires the full resources of the Good Samaritan of the Ozarks staff, which makes hosting other such events for the organization very difficult. As a result, Good Samaritan is hoping to partner with foundations, individuals, and organizations for fund raising efforts and grants to help offset the loss of funding from state and federal resources.
Events like the Women of Significance Luncheon and fundraising efforts of individuals in the community are more important than ever to the organization. Chambers said the organization welcomes any fundraising efforts by individuals and organizations in the community to benefit Good Samaritan and its programs.
Visit http://www.goodsam-genesis.org/ to make an online donation, find information, or contact the organization.