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Archive for Monday, January 11, 2010

Charities cheered by residents’ generosity

January 11, 2010

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Last year was a tough year for area nonprofits, with many seeing an increase in the number of residents in need.

But some agencies are also reporting an increase in community support.

“I was shocked by the generosity,” said Dianne Ensminger, executive director for the Ballard Center, 708 Elm St.

After the Ballard Center saw double the number of requests for its holiday family adoption program this year, secret donors helped make sure all 600 families were assisted.

The Ballard Center also exceeded donations in its annual funding campaign, which sought to raise $100,000 in 30 days. This year, the agency raised more than $120,000.

“People really stepped up,” Ensminger said.

Chip Blaser, executive director at the Douglas County Community Foundation, also reported an increase in revenues this year — up 10 percent to $1.3 million in 2009. “People recognize the need,” Blaser said.

But some nonprofits haven’t been as fortunate.

Wes Dahlberg, executive director at the Salvation Army, said his agency didn’t meet its goal for the annual Red Kettle campaign. Dahlberg didn’t return calls requesting specific numbers for this year’s campaign.

The Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross has an operating deficit, Executive Director Jane Blocher said, after the agency assisted more than three times as many fire victims in the last six months compared with the same period in 2008. But she said the agency saw a surge in donations in December following news of the fires.

“Douglas County residents never disappoint,” Blocher said. “We’ve got a really connected community.”

The United Way of Douglas County hasn’t reached its $1.8 million campaign goal, but Executive Director Erika Dvorske said it is at about 80 percent of the total so far, in line with last year’s pace.

Dvorske said she’s been surprised by those community members who couldn’t afford to donate money, but still found a way to give their time and energy to the agency. “People get really creative,” she said. “That’s been exciting to us.”

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