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REPORT: COUNTY NONPROFITS MAKING $10 FOR EVERY $1

A new report says St. Johns County nonprofits figuratively weave straw into gold by turning $1.36 million in tax dollars into more than $13.88 million they use to care for the county's elderly, blind, disabled, homeless, abused and illiterate.

Tom Myrick, chairman of the volunteer Health and Human Services Advisory Council, plans to present the council's just completed 400-page report on Tuesday.

"It's a report card to the County Commission, which in these difficult economic times has been brave enough to fund the social service agencies at the same level for the past three years," Myrick said.

For example, St. Johns Housing Partnership, with two employees, performs emergency home repairs for the poor. The agency received $85,100 in the 2009-10 budget but leveraged that amount into $2 million.

The Boys & Girls Club numbers told the same story. It turned $24,250 in taxes into $124,250.

Project Special Care, which trains the adult handicapped and provides respite care for families of handicapped children, turned its $29,771 of tax dollars into $295,158.

Myrick said that this "challenging time of limited financial resources" means that more people need help than ever before, resulting in an ever-increasing burden on social service agencies.

"This report was a collaborative effort with the board," he said. "Under the Sunshine Law, we could only discuss issues in advertised meetings. It took about two months just to come up with a list of questions that we wanted [social service agencies] asked."

Other than Myrick, the board members include Vice Chair Steve Larew, Ron Dixon, Glenn Goldberg, Mary McCarthy, Stan Gustetic and Lynn Brueske-Walton.

The 16 agencies supported by the county reported a total of 92,386 volunteer hours. The Council on Aging had the most with 42,142 hours.

St. Francis House, getting $75,000 per year, beat the 1:10 ratio by leveraging and using matching funds into more than $1 million.

The report lists all 16 agencies and gives detailed information about their mission, budgets, clients and other aspects of their operations.

Myrick said this document shows the value of social service agencies to the community.

"It gives them credibility," he said. "We can track their finances."

The report says nonprofits "contribute to the overall health of our economy, [serving] as employers and vendors, consumers of products, a vibrant tax-paying workforce, a network of community leaders, policy makers and businesses. The quality of life impact on St. Johns County would be severely degraded if in these hard times the nonprofits were unable to perform their much-needed social and human services."

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