Catching Those in Free-Fall

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Dear Friends of Help Now!:

This Holiday Season you can do something government cannot.  

More people are falling through our society’s safety net every day—here in southern Oregon and across the nation. Government funded social services are being cut back everywhere due to diminishing or deficit budgets at all levels of government.  Many non-profits are laying off staff and reducing services due to decreased funding in this economy and their dependence on government support.  Unfortunately, this situation is only going to worsen in the foreseeable future.  

What happens to people who lose services that have been their lifeline?  Those people are not in front of us every day so most of us just go on with our daily lives.  We might feel bad knowing those who face cuts will struggle more, but what’s happening to them doesn’t directly affect us.  Further, the poor, the uneducated, and the disabled are not a force within our political system meaning their needs can more readily be ignored or even sacrificed in government cost-cutting measures.  

At Help Now! we don’t ignore.  We have stepped up.  The number of individuals and families in crisis served by Help Now! has doubled from 2010 to 2011 to nearly 1000 in just one year!  We’re working extremely hard to keep up—by adding more phone lines, by recruiting more volunteers, and, at times, by working 14-16 hour days and weekends as well.    

The number of referrals we are getting from governmental agencies is growing exponentially.  We receive calls for help not just from southern Oregon residents, but from desperate people in crisis all over the country—many of them referred by the American Red Cross.  

So why has Help Now! become such an important resource for the underserved in our community and beyond?  

There are unique things about our work that make what we do increasingly vital and important to those finding themselves in sudden desperate need:  

  • One stop crisis intervention - Our clients, particularly those cut loose from other services and supports, often face multi-faceted crises. While many of our government organizations and local non-profits are equipped to handle specific types of issues, our advocates are trained and prepared to tackle crises regardless of the number and scope of the issues involved.  
  • No red tape - Help Now! acts immediately.  We live up to our name and reputation every day.  There is no application process, no fees to pay in order to get services, and there are no procedures to qualify for help.  Clients call in, describe the crisis or issue they need resolved, and we go into action—often within minutes of that call. We’re quick, lean, efficient, and effective.  
  • People helping people - Whether it’s our volunteers or our community partners (legal and healthcare professionals, tradespeople, businesspeople), we have successfully mobilized numerous others in the community and around the state to help their fellow residents in desperate need at no charge.  We have set an example of helping those in crisis without a fee attached and have inspired others to follow our lead.  In so doing, we have created a successful model for filling the void created by shrinking budgets and government cutbacks.  
  • Preventing larger social problems – More often than not, our help now to clients in crisis prevents them from becoming bigger burdens to other agencies, such as law enforcement and corrections, homeless shelters, residential treatment centers, and emergency medical facilities.  When we negotiate with landlords and banks and keep people in their homes, we prevent homelessness along with its social costs and human suffering.   When we find no-cost ways to get people the medications they need but cannot afford, we reduce the burden on the already-taxed emergency healthcare system.  When we get victims of scams their money back, we lessen the burden on governmental resources.  Our immediate, no-cost intervention has already saved community organizations and taxpayers in Oregon what we conservatively estimate to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Deeper lasting solutions -- Not only do we respond quickly to crises, but, where the situation warrants, we do not stop at the immediate issue but strive for long-term solutions.  So when a mentally ill man is about to become homeless because he has consistently mismanaged finances and cannot pay the monthly rent, we not only keep him in his home by negotiating with his landlord but also find him a payee so there is not a recurrence in the future.
  • Leveraged dollars  --  Help Now! is a volunteer-driven organization.  While we do partially compensate through grant monies some staff who perform client program services, everyone involved with the organization volunteers some or all of his/her time.  This means that each dollar that keeps Help Now! operational is leveraged many times over by volunteer time and thus goes farther—helping  more clients while using less money.  Money to assist Help Now! in its work goes farther than tax dollars used by government or even dollars used by other non-profits that are not as administratively “lean” as Help Now! or do not utilize volunteers to the extent Help Now! does.

Help Now! Advocacy Center has created a viable, low-cost business model for complementing, enhancing, and sometimes replacing diminishing governmental social services.  That model has worked effectively in southern Oregon, and it can be replicated anywhere in the country with community support and minimal funding.  

Our volunteers have been advocating for our community’s most vulnerable citizens for nearly 8 years, and we have an excellent track record for resolving critical issues with fairness, compassion, and professionalism.  Indeed, in those matters where we have intervened by performing some kind of negotiation on the client’s behalf, we have achieved the client-specified outcome over 90% of the time!

We now ask you to help us grow at a time when our unique services are needed more than ever and dollars need to go farther than ever.  These are challenging times, and Help Now! is doing critical work at low cost for those who need it most.  

Please give generously! 

Laurence M. Kahn
Executive Director 

Kari Swoboda-Crowley
Development Director