June 22, 2011 Edition

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Need for money
great at shelter

Gretchen Hunt
Editor

Operating The Children's Shelter in Walnut Ridge may be a labor of love, but it still takes money to make the wheels go around.

Shelter board president Judy Turnbull said finding the additional money needed to continue to fund the shelter is a must.

Staff members were recently put on alert that if the shelter continues to be unable to meet its budget, the facility could be forced to close.

"Our employees are passionate about their jobs and want to work there," Turnbull said. "They immediately said what can we do? We'll stand on street corners with cans or wash windows or whatever is needed. What can we do?"

She said she could not say enough about the staff at the shelter.

"This is their living, but the pay is not enough to make them stay," she said. "It takes someone with a special heart to do what they are doing."

So now, the board is looking at options to obtain the additional funds.

Fund-raisers, such as the pavers that are available for purchase, continue, and donations are still being sought. A gala is being planned for July 14, as well.

"Everything helps, whether it's a monthly contribution or a one-time donation," Turnbull said.

She said the board is also planning to meet next Wednesday with representatives from the Division of Children and Family Services and the state board that oversees the shelter's licensing requirements, as well as with H.T. Moore, who serves as attorney for the shelter.

"We are going to meet with them and see what we can do to save the shelter," Turnbull said. "It's very critical. You can know the shelter's there and know the children are taken care of and still not realize what all goes into it."

She was quick to point out, however, how generous the community has been to support the shelter, especially with the donation of clothes, books, food and supplies.

"We are able to provide for the children very well," Turnbull said, "but the bottom line is it's still the money you've got to have."

Salaries for caregivers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as utilities and other overhead create a budget that is not being met by the funding provided by the state.

One unexpected expense that is also causing a budget crunch is unemployment expenses.

"We're definitely not throwing in the towel, but we need some things to break loose," Turnbull said. "People need to be aware that we are surviving, but we won't be able to very long without some fresh ideas."

"We're not the only non-profit feeling the crunch," she added. "It just breaks my heart that we're one of them."

Anyone with suggestions or who would like to help financially can contact Turnbull at 886-6796 or Lisa Hufstedler, shelter administrator, at 886-5191.

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