To The Daily Sun,
In December 2007, I sat in front of my computer to compose my first holiday letter for Neighbors in Need. I had replaced Bob Decamp that year as president. Of course, no one could actually "replace" Bob, NIN's "founder," as he had spend 20 years of his life working to help families in need in the Lakes Region community. In looking back six years later, I realize that few knew what was to be forthcoming in terms of the worst economic disaster since the 1930s for our country and our local community.
I reflected on how these "hard times" had changed what we've done over the ensuing years. In looking at the "numbers," the first thing to meet the eye is the dramatic increase in the amount of assistance needed and rendered. Given the economic climate, this would seem obvious. Families and individuals who had never needed help before were now faced with much financial distress.
The number of local organizations rendering assistance to the community, especially churches, has also increased as more and more people seek help from the institutions that are closest to them. This has helped the Lakes Region immeasurably, as the need has grown so much. Neighbors in Need benefited from this increase in assistance providers, since we only work through and depend on other non-profits in providing help.
The type of assistance has also changed . Six years ago Neighbors in Need was hardly involved with child care or transportation costs. Now, with most adults in a household forced to work just to make ends meet, quality child care is now essential. Additional, as purchase of new autos becomes too expensive, folks retain their older automobiles, and car repairs become more burdensome.
The year-end holidays have themselves created additional needs to be addressed. More and more families depend on the Thanksgiving and Christmas food, toys, and clothing programs. Neighbors in Need has kept pace by providing financial help to keep these programs viable.
Finally, one of the most distressing change over the last six years has been the fall-off in contributions from our supporters. 2013 donations are half as much as 2007. This is not because the Lakes Region is less generous. However, as our long-time contributors "go to their heavenly rewards", there have been fewer new supporters as their incomes are themselves impacted by a slow economy.
So, this year, I'm appealing for more help from as many of you as possible. If you've been a supporter for these many years — our heartfelt thanks and a request to "dig a little deeper" if your financial situation permits. Also, please think about recommending us to your friends and family.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays to all in the Lakes Region.
Bill Johnson, President
Neighbors in Need