Helping Hands of Franklin County, VA

2016 Annual Report

We can safely say that 2016 was a “comfortable” year for Helping Hands.  We were never in trouble for funding, and we were able occasionally to increase our assistance beyond the norm when we felt we should.  The two reasons why, however, raise some questions.  First we assisted 639 clients rather than the 682 in 2015 or the 744 in 2014.  Are things getting better for our Franklin County friends, or are there other factors?  Second, we began 2016 with perhaps the largest carryover amount in our history, with $51,506.  This was a result of the late year 2015 SMLCHT that brought us over $22,000, most of which carried over into 2016.  Since we did not participate in the 2016 event, nor did we apply for the 2017 event, we are looking to broaden our sources of funding.  We received double our usual amount of funding from the Grand Winter Gala ($4,000 rather than the usual $2,000), but now that event will no longer be conducted. 

We continued to average about 15 volunteers at any one time, and have recently added 3 new ones, all of whom seem to be progressing well.  Volunteers usually average 2-3 times a month, and they do marvelous work.  Our receptionist, Lucy Hearn, is there almost every time the doors open, and she has in fact opened the doors herself when emergencies prohibited our director from attending.  Florence Quinn, who was around when the first HHFC session event occurred, is still going strong.  Two other volunteers, Jim Byrnes and Joel Friedman, have contributed ideas that have helped our program to move more smoothly (not visible to everyone, but certainly to the Director).  Other volunteers contribute in their unique and thorough ways.  They are ALL appreciated.

CONTRIBUTIONS

Churches and individuals/families continue to be our great sources of funding.  In 2016, churches contributed $39,153 while individuals gave $22,906, for a total of $62,259, or about 55% of our total 2016 contributions.  This represented an increase from churches of almost $5,000 over 2015, and about $1,500 fewer dollars from individuals and families.  United Way of Franklin County has been very good to us, but their own funding numbers have dropped, lowering our amounts from them by about 33% for the coming year.

However, we are still one of the top recipients of UW funds, for which we are grateful.  We can always count on a total of $10,000 from combined contributions from Franklin County Board of Supervisors and the Town of Rocky Mount.  Amounts from grants, fundraisers, civic clubs and businesses round out our funding sources.

We are aware that we need to cultivate other sources for funds, and are contemplating possible activities.  We have received $5,500 in funding from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, a federal program.  This funding for jurisdictions is based largely on unemployment figures, and Franklin County actually is better off than many other jurisdictions in the Commonwealth.

We must once again express our gratitude to local entities such as STEP, Inc. who rents our office suite to us for $1 a year; Boone Accounting, who discounts our fees about 50%; Beth Wooten of the local Salvation Army, with whom we work cooperatively to assist all the people we can; United Way, who perks us up and keeps us moving; and all the others too numerous to mention who kick in their own forms of support.  We are fortunate to be in a jurisdiction in which all agencies work together rather than compete openly for funding or public credit.       

SERVICES

As has been the case for many years, we exceeded $100,000 in services to Franklin County’s most needy and vulnerable citizens.  We provided about $2,000 less in AEP termination payments, but increased by about the same amount with rent/mortgage issues.  We established an average of about $150 in both rent and electric power payments, although we sometimes exceeded that amount.  With a good amount of funding available, during the last quarter of the year we reduced the return time for clients to 15 months rather than the usual 18 months, and this did assist a few extra persons.  Beginning the 2017 year, we returned to the 18 month time. 

Motel assistance has become our third largest expense, and we still do not have a good handle on knowing when to limit this category.  We have a short list of people whom we have assisted with motel rooms twice, and will do no more than that.  The average for motel rooms is three nights.  It is not unusual to get a midnight call from our police force asking if we can put someone up who has been found living in a car, in a tent, under a park bench, etc., and our policy is that if our police call, we’ll honor the request.  In 2016, we spent $7,377 on motel rooms, primarily at HomeTown Inn.  This doubled our 2015 amount.

Our assistance with heating fuel has reduced considerably, partly due to our not paying as much on this item as we formally did.  We now average about $150 for this assistance, and the client must furnish the remainder.  We can report that of all our income in 2016, 86% of it went to direct assistance to Franklin County resident.

CONCLUSION

Helping Hands continues to be held in good esteem around the county.  However, we are still a secret to many, and we need to continue to publicize our efforts to a greater degree.  There are many generous people in our county (23 entities provided $1,000 or more during 2016).  Whether $5, $10, or $10,000, it all counts, and all funding is appreciated.

Two developments in early 2017 bear our participation and following.  One is Charity Tracker, of which we are a member at no cost, a computerized program through which member agencies can share information concerning clients and their assistance.  The other is a new organization called Faith Network, a network of churches whose goal is to fill unmet needs in the county and to provide services beyond the one-stop temporary services such as Helping Hands delivers (example:  ongoing mentoring for certain clients). Both of these are promising developments for 2017, and we’ll be as active as possible to be a positive factor in both.

Meanwhile, as always, we continue to work hard and pray hard, remembering our unofficial motto:  “We  never don’t need money.”

Samuel H. Campbell, Director
Kay Saleeby, Board Chair