Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Why Nonprofits Are More Necessary Than Ever

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Why Nonprofits Are More Necessary Than Ever

Article excerpt

As Covenant House begins our 35th year of providing direct services and advocacy in Charleston and parts of southern West Virginia, I find myself more aware of the remarkable legacy of the faith community and Pat Hussey and Barbara Ferraro during their 25 years at our beloved organization. Pat and Barbara are perhaps most credited with blazing the trail of advocating on behalf of people experiencing homelessness, people living with HIV/AIDS, people living in poverty - both rural and inner city - and other people who found themselves impoverished and voiceless in deep Appalachia.

They believed every West Virginian had the right to food, a place to live, and access to affordable health care. Their indelible vision continues to be embraced by Covenant House staff and our community board.

This vision was born during the late 1970's out of our faith community. Too numerous to mention every single person here, some of the citizens who were instrumental in today's Covenant House include the Rev. Jim Lewis and his late wife Judy, Pat Perelman (the first director of Covenant House), Gov. Gaston Caperton, Milford Zeigler, Bob Rodecker; Art Greenlee, Harold Graves, Helaine Rotgin, Al Thalheimer and the Charleston Interfaith Council on Social Concerns.

Bob Rodecker, the first president of the Covenant House Board of Directors, said: "It was a time when there were people who were interested in doing something for the country, whether it was in the Peace Corps or whatever. Covenant House was really just a recognition of need and response to that need. I'm just proud to have been a part of it.

On the brink of 2016 many nonprofits are in the fight of their lives. The National Council of Nonprofits reports the majority of nonprofits have less than three months operating cash on hand. Continued decline in government funding puts a squeeze on local nonprofits.

I know this first hand. I devote entire days to finding resources and raising enough money to sustain our mission. In addition to helping the poor (83 percent of every dollar raised at Covenant House goes directly back to helping those in need), our mission includes paying employee health care and a living wage. …

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