Fortunes Improving at House for Elderly Men

Fortunes Improving at House for Elderly Men

By Josh Jarman
Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Although the sun has come out from the clouds, the John George Home still faces rough seas on its way to financial sustainability.

The home for elderly men, which was almost closed by the state in 2004, got a huge boost in January when John Campau, president of the home’s board of directors, challenged the community to help keep the home a safe-haven for its low-income residents.

The community responded by raising more than $80,000 in two weeks.

Carrie Good, executive director of the home, said that went a long way in changing the nonprofit’s fortunes.

“It saved us,” Good said. “We didn’t have a lot of hope before. Now we are very hopeful.”

The home at 1501 E. Ganson St. is full with 35 residents. There is even a waiting list, the first in many years.

Recently, the home got more good news when the Weatherwax Foundation donated $50,000 for general operating expenses.

Good said that puts the home on track to come up with the $120,000 she must raise each year to keep the home open after all the reliable sources of funding come in, such as residents’ rent and state Medicare.

For the rest, Good relies on donations from individuals and foundations.

“The foundations are not a well you can keep going back to,” she said. “I learned from them. ‘If you come to us today and need $10, and I give you $10, when you come back tomorrow ask for $8.’ ”

Good said that is the balancing act of keeping a nonprofit like the John George Home afloat. She needs to raise as much money as she can, because the home’s mission is to be affordable.

“I’m not going to pass my financial troubles on to the residents,” she said. “These guys are farmers and construction workers. We have 20 veterans in here. It’s time we consider them and give back just a portion of what they gave over their lifetimes.”

With the Weatherwax money, Good hopes she can reach her $120,000 goal by sometime next summer, giving her a six-month jump on 2008’s needs. That is why, despite all the good news, Good said the home still needs Jackson’s support.

“I am not a sinking ship,” she said. “But the waves do get a little high sometimes. It is still a struggle.”

Campau said the home must continue to pursue diverse funding sources to keep its head above water. He said his Citizen of the Year Award from the Citizen Patriot helped raise the profile of the home and provided more fundraising opportunities.

“At a two-hour lunch at Outback Steakhouse, we recently raised $11,000. That’s phenomenal,” he said.

Campau said the board’s vision for the home is to always have three years of secure funding lined up, which is why he is asking the community for three-year commitments.

“We used to have three days of funding,” said Campau, president and CEO of Comtronics. “Now we have about a year, and we want three years.”

Reprinted with permission from The Jackson Citizen Patriot

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