Six local nonprofit organizations will go into the 2013-2014 fiscal year with a boost from grant funding allotted Tuesday by Murrieta City Council.
St. Martha Community Food Pantry will be given $15,000 of $42,000 in community development block grant money available through the city of Murrieta for fiscal year 2013-2014, city council decided.
Seven organizations applied for a share of $42,000 the city expects to receive from the Riverside County Economic Development Agency, which is allocated federal CDBG funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The city anticipates receiving a total of $280,000 for fiscal year 2013-2014, of which it can award 15 percent to public service projects.
The remainder of 2013-2014 CDBG grants coming to Murrieta—$238,000—can only be used for capital improvement. Upon staff recommendation, city council approved those funds for improvements to the Murrieta Senior Center.
Entry doors will be replaced to improve access to the center, and a bocce ball court is planned to provide seniors with outdoor recreation activities, Assistant to the City Manager Nancy Driggers wrote in a staff report.
To qualify for a piece of the other 15 percent, projects must benefit the Murrieta community by assisting low and moderate-income people, eliminating slums or blight or meeting particular urgent needs.
In 2011, the city council identified its priorities as food pantries, programs for women and children, domestic violence, and children and youth development programs, respectively.
A public information forum was held Sept. 10 for interested organizations.
An application period followed.
Requests totaling $158,096 were received by the city—in contrast to the $42,000 city council was tasked with divvying up Tuesday.
“We are talking about human beings in need,” said Mayor Pro Tem Rick Gibbs.
St. Martha Community Food Pantry, which provides food and other supplies for 500 families weekly, applied for $40,000 and received $15,000.
“In all of the years that we have been assisting families we have never had as many calls from parents telling us they do not have food to feed their children as we have had in the last six months,” said Mariann Schiewe, coordinator of family outreach for St. Martha Community Food Pantry and 2nd Hand Treasures Thrift Store.
“Our clients are not just parents; they are people out of work, people with low incomes, grandparents raising grandchildren, the eldery and disabled on fixed incomes, the homebound, homeless —young adults moving from friend to friend—victims of abuse and families who have lost their homes,” Schiewe said.
Assistance League of Temecula Valley applied for $20,000 and received $5,000. Through Operation School Bell, ALTV provides approximately 160 Murrieta children and youth with scholarships for clothes, school supplies and hygiene kits.
SMURF, short for Single Mothers Uniting in Rewarding Fellowship, applied for $15,000.
“Seventy-six percent of our moms are employees; 45 hold more than one job,” said Paul Kauffman, who founded the group. “Housing is an issue; 48 percent of their income is paid on rent—it is a constant issue. So this becomes a family; it’s fellowship and family.”
Single mother Helen Medina said after joining SMURF, she and her two children have found the support they needed.
“Due to domestic violence in my marriage it ended in 2004,” Medina said. “Being a single parent means you have no one else to rely upon.”
Though SMURF was the only organization that was not allotted money Tuesday, Mayor Doug McAllister said his hope was that Assistance League could connect with the group and help with children’s clothing scholarships.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest County applied for $10,000 and was awarded $5,000. The money will go toward funding scholarships for before and after school care for Murrieta youth.
“We serve mostly kids who qualify for free or reduced lunch at school,” said Maryann Edwards, CEO of Boys and Girls Club of Southwest County and Temecula City Councilwoman.
"They either come from single parent households or have working parents...so we really provide the safety net for those kids," Edwards said.
CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates of Riverside County, which provides advocacy for children in the foster care system, applied for $43,096 and was awarded $5,000.
“Kids in foster care in our area move 22 to 65 times,” said Debra Sotton, CEO of CASA Riverside County. “Over 80 percent of prison inmates are from foster care…It is up to us to ensure they have everything they need to be successful in this life.”
Michelle’s Place Breast Cancer Resource Center, which provides awareness, support, and medical costs for uninsured patients, applied for $10,000 and received $5,000.
“We don’t have other funding (beside fund-raising) and grant funds such as this are getting harder and harder to come by,” said Kim Goodnough, executive director of Michelle’s Place. “This was the worst fundraising year I have ever seen in the nine years I’ve worked in Michelle’s Place…In spite of that we have been able to continue our services. These women have nowhere else to go to get these services.”
SAFE, or Safe Alternatives for Everyone, requested $15,000 and was allotted $7,000. The program serves victims of domestic violence in Temecula and Murrieta, with between 500 and 700 victims from Murrieta each year, according to Melissa Donaldson, executive director.
“That fluctuates; Murrieta calls for service have gone up 27 percent in the last four months,” Donaldson said.
Council members said deciding the annual allocations were among their more difficult tasks; Gibbs called it “anguishing.”
“All of the organizations are doing wonderful things,” Councilman Randon Lane said.
The basics need to be covered first, McAllister said.
“Everyone has to eat; that is a basic,” McAllister said. “The ministry that St. Martha’s provides is irreplaceable so I am hesitant to cut too much from what they are doing given their load is not going down, is it going up.”
The funds will be dispersed prior to the start of the fiscal year in July 2013.
Many of the recipients were the same as last year’s: St. Martha Community Food Pantry was allotted $20,000 for 2012-2013; Michelle's Place was given $5,000; Assistance League received $5,000, SAFE received $5,000 and Boys and Girls Clubs received $5,000.
Supervisor Jeff Stone, whose third district includes Murrieta, . The money was distributed to the organizations already approved by city council.
CASA applied last year but did not receive funding.
After hearing from CASA Tuesday, Councilwoman Kelly Bennett, a family law attorney, said she saw the impact foster care advocates can make if given support.
"It is a small amount of money with big rewards for our society," Gibbs said.