Voices of the Gulf—Supporting Community Stewards

 

During my time working to support NAACP branches and state conferences in supporting their communities, I’ve encountered scores of organizations doing amazing work and really being the glue that is keeping fractured communities together.  Over 200 community based organizations in the Gulf are providing varying types of support to communities impacted by the oil drilling disaster, including housing assistance, food, counseling, case management, advocacy, etc.  

Throughout the Gulf, CBOs are reporting an extreme surge in demand and a significant decrease in revenue. The financial devastation resulting from the Oil Disaster has taken its toll on community members, causing them to seek social services, and on the businesses that support the community based organizations that provide these services.  

“BP requested that community based organizations provide proposals last year, but they never received a response. These organizations are critical to the survival of communities in the Gulf. They are suffering.  BP gave $1m for emergency relief and $32m for mental health services but much more is needed.”—Senator Mary Landrieu at January 27th Senate Hearing on the Oil Spill.

Lenore Folkes of Opportunity Inc. in Fort Walton Florida speaks about how her revenues have been cut by over 50% because her organization was partially dependent on donations from now suffering businesses. At the same time her intake has multiplied and far exceeds her capacity.

Similar to Opportunity, Inc., Barry Gray of the Lovejoy community in Okaloosa County Florida has an non-profit organization that had to close its doors because revenues dried up to such an extent that they were no longer able to operate. He maintains the voicemail and to this day, people are still calling seeking assistance.

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