Family Resource Center loses funding

COVINGTON -- Just as need for its services is increasing, funding has been slashed for the The Family Resource Center East.

The non-profit encompasses the organization formerly known as Prevent Child Abuse Newton and Newton County READS. The organization is housed in a facility at 4118 Herring St. and offers a wide range of services, from literacy and GED programs to counseling and life skills groups; mentoring programs; work ready training; child abuse and neglect prevention and awareness; individual and group counseling; trauma recovery support for sexually abused girls; and substance abuse prevention and intervention.

Just as the Resource Center was celebrating its one year anniversary in a new facility in October, staff members got word that the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health was cutting a major grant that pays for about half the budgets of both organizations.

"They decided to go in a different direction and we did not meet the criteria," said Sheena Berry, executive director of The Family Resource Center East. "They decided to focus on underage drinking."

The loss in funding comes at a time when, "Our programs are just thriving," Berry said. "Now we're in the position of struggling to recoup those funds at a time when people are calling, calling and calling, and it's just sad."

GED programs, computer classes and work ready training, where students are assisted with interview and resume writing skills, are especially popular, Berry said, and news of those services has spread quickly through word of mouth, as the organization does not have much in advertising funds. The computer skills program has a waiting list into 2012, she added.

Newton County READS Executive Director Paryn Wallace said the organization's mission is to develop sustainable, healthy attitudes towards literacy in Newton County. The organization focuses on adult literacy.

"Newton County READS impacts the Newton community by decreasing illiteracy rates and improving the capability of our workforce and increasing reading levels that place those with below-level reading levels at a competitive disadvantage," Wallace said.

Both organizations may not be able to meet rent payments come the new year. Rent for the facility is $1,500 a month, which Berry said is reasonable for the space, but with increased utilities during the colder months, it will be a challenge to pay expenses. The few payroll staff members are now working as volunteers, she said.

Berry is hoping more nonprofits in need of space will move in and help with rent, and recipients of services may have to start paying a modest fee, she said.

Volunteers are needed to help run programs and monetary donations are also being sought.

"We're just going to muddle through this," she said. "We have no intention of closing down."

For more information on the organizations, call 678-342-4004 or email tfrceast@yahoo.com. Donations can be sent to The Family Resource Center East, 4118 Herring St., Covington, GA, 30014.