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'We can't stop': Charities feel strain from inflation and pandemic

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Posted at 7:59 PM, Nov 29, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, non-profits nationwide are hoping that shoppers still have money left to spend to help them.

This year, the phrase "it takes a village" has never rang truer for Executive Director of Lighthouse Ministries Tay Henderson.

Lighthouse provides everyday necessities to those in need, such as food, socks, housing shoes, coats and blankets.

While they have managed to continue helping the people they serve daily, Henderson says it has not been easy. Rising costs for food, gas and other goods have stretched their budget thin. Henderson says she's had to heavily rely on creativity, having almost run out of food due to pricing and less frequent food donations.

"We made it through a really three — or four-month dry spot there, like what is going on," said Henderson.

Many non-profits have expressed continued strain linked to the pandemic and inflation, according to the 2022 Nonprofit Trend Report. CARES Act funding has dried up along with other COVID-related grants. Some fundraising drives have still not resumed after taking a pause in 2020.

Henderson says that although they feed clients seven days a week, they were unable to secure any grant funding for food they desperately need.

Laura Slaughter, executive director of Gleanings Housing, says they too did not receive any grants they applied for.

"We tried and we will continue to try because building a house is really expensive," explained Slaughter.

Gleanings Housing was birthed in 2020 by a group of people who hosted dinner church services. Slaughter says they saw how the lack of housing that's affordable in Lexington has impacted families.

"We realized how significant the problem of affordable housing was. We were running into people who were on disability and spending 75% of their income just to be housed. They are on fixed income. We're also running into a lot of homeless individuals. And at some point, we reached this decision that said it's not okay. It is not okay for us to say we care about you, you matter to us, and then watch you walk out in the snow and have no place to go," said Slaughter.

They currently have two properties: Legacy Home, which houses five elderly women and Magoffin Street Triplex, which is still under construction.

The Magoffin Street Complex will cost around $150,000 to complete and house three families. They're hoping donations and volunteers will help them get there.

"We can't stop with this, this is just the beginning, this is why we need more partners, we need more people," said Slaughter.

The families would only be responsible for paying 30% of their income toward rent and be able to stay indefinitely.

"It's not temporary. It's not transitional. This is — we're saying you can rent this. You can rent this for as long as you need it," she said.

With a potentially bleak economic outlook for 2023, both non-profits are banking on end-of-the-year donations to help support their mission.

It's why Blue Grass Community Foundation is working to help connect donors to non-profits like theirs by using their platform and the Good Giving challenge as a one-stop shop for Kentuckians in the giving spirit.

They have big fundraisers year after year, but this is their only fundraising event and we know of some who raised their entire year's budget for next year during these four days," said Laura Parsons, director of strategic initiatives and communication. "It's really important to them."

Lighthouse is trying to hit $40,000 in donations to help carry them into next year. Gleanings is in need of $150,000 and are looking for any help they can get.

"We're looking for new donors... people who don't know about us... people who are ready to become part of our community," said Slaughter.

Both are also accepting donations of time in the form of volunteers.

The group page for Facebook is Gleanings Housing Inc, or on Instagram @gleaningshousinginc. For more details on how to participate in the #GoodGivingChallenge, visit their website.