NWA nonprofits struggle to survive during health crisis


NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — ‘Tis the season of giving, but this holiday season some don’t have a lot to give.

With the coronavirus pandemic leading to the permeant closure of businesses around the nation, many have been laid off or forced out of work permanently.

In turn, some of these people have had to seek help from nonprofits, but these organizations are struggling, too.

At the Arkansas Crisis Center based out of Springdale, Executive Director Rebecca Brubaker said money has dried up since March, but calls for help continue to come in.

The statewide helpline connects those who are facing any type of crisis, with resources and services available to them.

“We’re up over 110% from last year,” Brubaker said.

Since the beginning of the year, call center volunteers have already taken 2,000 more calls than they had at this same time in 2019, according to Brubaker.

She said there are upwards of 12 volunteers and staff who put in about 100 hours a month to answer these calls.

With not enough people to cover phone lines, Brubaker said her team is only able to serve about 80% of the calls that come in.

So what happens to the 20% of calls that go unanswered?

Brubaker said, “they either call back when the line is open again or they just don’t call and their crisis expands.”

Crisis Services Program Manager Illeah Marcum has spoken with many who have called the hotline.

Since March, she said she’s heard from several people who are having a hard time handling all the changes we’ve experienced, and unknowns that continue, because of the pandemic.

“We do have a lot of calls where people are just feeling that isolation and they’re just really feeling alone,” Marcum said.

Even as call volumes increase though, funding for the nonprofit hasn’t.

Brubaker said the organization will end the year down about $80,000 in donations it typically receives from corporations, fundraising efforts and individual donors.

“Money that we expected to come in, but everyone’s holding on tighter to their extra funds and not making those donations like they have in the past,” Brubaker continued, “when those funds are not coming in as expected, we’re struggling to meet the bills and the expenses and the salaries.”

Had it not been for operating reserves, Brubaker said it’s likely the Arkansas Crisis Center would’ve already had to end its services.

Another area nonprofit that’s seen more people reach out for help since the start of the pandemic, is the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter.

It provides shelter and support to women, men and children affected by domestic violence in our region.

With more people reaching out for services, and strict health guidelines now in place, Development Director Stacy Seger said the shelter has had to change how it assists people, which has come with increased costs.

“We have had the extra expenditures, but I’m really happy to say that if we weren’t able to shelter someone or provide the services they need, we have been able to connect them with one of our community partners who has been able to take care of them,” Stacy said.

Financially, the organization isn’t struggling. Stacey said donors and volunteers have continued to provide support, even into the health crisis.

Stacey said, “we were a little nervous about how things would go because as you know its been so uncertain for so many people.”

Despite the individual struggles, both non profits are committed to continuing to help those in need.

“We are here. We’re not giving up and we’re not stopping, we’re continuing to provide safe services to provide shelter and counseling and advocacy and it’s because of the generosity of NWA that we’re able to do that,” Stacy said.

Even though the Arkansas Crisis Center is ending the year shorter on funding than expected, Brubaker said there is hope heading into the New Year with a grant and federal funding already promised.

Brubaker said, “we’re going to keep plugging on and we’re going to make it through this.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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