The story in Sundayís Bulletin was specifically about Good Samaritan Ministries, the interfaith organization serving Brown County residents with a variety of needs thatís supported by a number of churches and individuals. But the situation it describes is shared by almost every charitable group as financial pressures stemming from the rising cost of energy challenge the budgets of their supporters.

When faithful donors find themselves having to spend more money to pay utilities, to buy groceries and to fuel their vehicles, the discretionary income available for donations becomes scarce. Businesses and private households are getting creative in finding ways to make ends meet, but the truth remains that something has to give, somewhere.

The problem manifests itself in a variety of ways that go beyond just the amount of dollars received as gifts. Many volunteers are forced to cut back on the time they give to organizations because they canít afford to drive to and from home as often. Some may decide they canít volunteer as much because they need to use that time earning some extra cash to pay bills.

Itís a dilemma for charitable organizations who find themselves asked to do more for the people they serve because of the economy, at the same time the people they depend on to make those services possible are forced to cut back on what they can do.

Brown County and Texas have not experienced the scope of the economical downturn many areas of America have, but in our interdependent society, we are also not immune. But on Monday, although economic activity is likely to be weak during the current April-to-June quarter, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the risk that the economy has entered a substantial downturn appears to have diminished.

That may be the most optimistic news the nation could expect. And if that means an upswing is in the making, none would be happier to see it than charitable organizations.

Brownwood Bulletin