On Giving Tuesday, Long Island nonprofits see critical need
By Olivia Winslow
Updated November 29, 2022
Read on Newsday
With Giving Tuesday at hand, officials from a cross-section of Long Island nonprofits have said unmet needs remain for many of their clients because of inflation and the lingering effects of the pandemic that, for some, meant lost wages.
Some agencies reported Monday that while donations were holding steady, they faced increased costs to maintain the same level of services. As a result, they said, donations from the public were critical.
Wendy Linsalata, president of the Ronkonkoma-based L.I. Against Domestic Violence, which serves clients in Suffolk County, was blunt.
“Our biggest need remains obviously funding, so this way we can enhance our services and enhance the service delivery method by increasing our staffing capacity.”
Her agency will serve about 7,300 individuals by the end of this year, Linsalata said, but in all likelihood, more people could be served if they knew the organization existed.
“We know there are so many more who need assistance, but they haven’t reached out for help …,” she said. “We do not have an advertising budget, so funds are needed for public awareness campaigns to help us get the message out there on a wide platform.”
The concerns of Linsalata and others involved with Long Island nonprofits helping those in need come as Tuesday is celebrated as Giving Tuesday, a global effort “that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity,” says a message on GivingTuesday.org.
Linsalata said her agency is in need of donated Visa and American Express gift cards, since many clients don’t have enough money for emergencies.
“We’ve been very fortunate that fundraising has held steady, however we recognize that the unmet needs of those we work with in the community have grown,” said Gwen O’Shea, president and chief executive of the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, which serves about 25,000 people annually in five programs: rental assistance, housing development and planning, resident services, homeownership, and financial lending.
“There’s still lingering COVID and post-COVID implications,” O’Shea said. “In particular those in our rental assistance program, it’s financially constrained households.”
Some clients were laid off during the COVID-19 shutdown, she said.
“It was difficult for them to catch up. In these households we see utility arrears, challenges with covering basic necessities, never mind the increased cost that comes with the holiday season,” O’Shea said. “Our efforts are around providing financial support to those households.”
O’Shea said her organization has an “adopt-a-family” program, which largely involves helping single women with young children.
“Any dollar amount is welcome.”
Like the Community Development Corporation, many of the nonprofits receive government grants to finance their programs. But they also rely on donations.
Chris Rosa is president and chief executive of The Viscardi Center in Albertson, which provides a “life span of services” to “educate, employ and empower” young people who are “medically fragile” and have significant physical disabilities, as well as adults with physical and intellectual disabilities.
“We rely, of course, on state funding,” Rosa said. “But for a lot of the programs that provide the extra layer of support that is so important to the success of the people we serve, we rely on philanthropy.”
Those programs include the center’s wheelchair basketball program, its independent living home and its accessible aquatic center.
“All of those resources were created and sustained solely through philanthropy,” Rosa said. The “lion’s share,” he said, come from individual donations.
Rosa said a “sense of urgency is experienced by all nonprofits as the cost of doing our work has increased because of inflation.”
Rebecca Sanin, president and chief executive of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, said in a text message that the “economic destabilization of COVID-19, met now with the high costs of groceries, oil and basic needs, means that there is tremendous, escalated need this season. We see a pronounced increase in families struggling with hunger, mental health needs, housing and a pervasive sense of dread about how to make ends meet.”
Sanin added: “This giving day, every dollar donated to HWCLI will go towards addressing these pressing human crises and I’m certain that all of the organizations in our network need the support and generosity of Long Islanders able to donate in order to serve the region in a time of great financial strain and uncertainty.”
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