It’s shaping up to be a long, hot summer for Good Samaritan Ministries, where financial concerns are pressing the organization’s operations from all sides.
Requests for assistance — both for food, clothing and utilities — are up at a time when volunteers are either away on vacation or scaling back participation because of fuel costs.
“Gasoline prices are affecting our volunteer force,” Executive Director Angelia Bostick said this week. “We have volunteers in places like Lake Brownwood or Blanket who had been coming three times a week who are now down to one, and others who just can’t make it.”
Bostick said the office has been seeing 10 to 15 new families each week, and many of them are looking for help with utilities and rent.
“Everybody’s hurting right now,” Bostick said, “and we’re feeling it too. It’s so hot. We’re keeping our thermostats up in the office, and making sure we turn off lights. That’s about all we can do without cutting staff.”
That’s something Bostick hopes to avoid, because employees are taking up the slack on duties that had typically been handled by volunteers.
“Discretionary funds are what are needed,” Bostick said. “We have donations of food, and money for fixing the building. But those funds can’t be touched for operations. The food bank is holding their prices as long as it can. We are trying to buy more each time to save on delivery charges.”
Undesignated gifts help to keep the offices of Good Samaritan open, she said. Only 15 percent of every budget dollar go toward operations and administration.
Good Samaritan succeeded in matching this year’s $50,000 Feinstein Challenge: March Against Hunger this spring through the generosity of supporters, Bostick said. More than $62,000 was raised. That allows the food pantry to remain open at a time of the year when hunger is not as visible in the community as it might be around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Bostick said the ministry is supported by a number of local church congregations, and that they refer people seeking help to Good Samaritan. Many individuals also support the work, but she senses that the tighter economy is a consideration in charitable giving.
“It’s difficult to tell people we don’t have money,” Bostick said. “Churches are supporting us, but that money is just not keeping up. We’ve grown in the services we’re providing. But God is faithful. This is His timing. He’s got going to let us falter. But I sure wish He’d show me the answer.”
Bostick said the majority of the families Good Samaritan helps can be described as “the working poor” — people who have low-paying jobs but who are trying to do the best they can.
“They have a job, they’re working somewhere,” Bostick said.
Other clients are senior citizens on fixed incomes and single parents. They all are finding themselves in even more difficult circumstances this summer as fuel prices climb, utility costs rise with the extreme heat and prices for other necessities soar in response.
“It’s ironic, but I think the people who live from pay check to pay check might know how to adjust to tough times better than others who have never had to face this before,” Bostick observed.
“I keep saying, ‘This too shall pass,’” she added. “We’ll survive, we’ll adjust.”