As we all know, Superstorm Sandy cut a wide path of destruction across the five boroughs and beyond. Local charities, including The Foundling, were deeply affected along with individuals and businesses. As I wrote in my last blog, many of our foster families were displaced or without power and bare necessities for more than a week; generators in some of our buildings were destroyed and still need to be repaired or replaced, and our Mother/Child program had to be temporarily moved to another location.
Even as we are recovering from this natural catastrophe, in the months to come the Foundling faces a potential catastrophe of another sort: a significant financial crisis – one that will have an even greater impact on us than Sandy.
This historic storm destroyed roads, homes, businesses, public transportation, schools and even entire communities. The cost to government in unemployment and lost tax revenue will be astronomical – possibly in the billions of dollars. Even with the federal government stepping up to the plate, the impact on our state and city governments will be significant.
The unfortunate reality is that at a time of fiscal crisis, human and social service agencies, like The Foundling, are the first to feel the budget ax. Though The Foundling’s costs are rising and the demand for our services continues to increase, our government funding – the bulk of our budget – will undoubtedly be cut next year. Where does that leave us?
Tomorrow, three more parents will bring their babies to The Foundling’s crisis nursery for temporary respite care. The scholars in our South Bronx charter school will still need food, medical care and social services. Low-income pregnant teenagers and young mothers, who live at our Mother/Child residences, will still need our program to help them become responsible parents. Dozens of juvenile offenders will be released from detention centers and into their own communities under our supervision. We are a part of the community and The Foundling’s services will be needed tomorrow and the day after that, regardless of budget restraints.
The Foundling, like many of our sister agencies, relies heavily on charitable donations from individuals, especially during the holiday season. Almost 80% of the private donations we receive each year are made between Thanksgiving and the New Year. And since the storm hit, many generous New Yorkers have directed their allotted charitable giving to well-known, respectable disaster recovery organizations to help victims rebuild their lives. While this is an understandable and a most laudable action, it can leave organizations like The Foundling short on the vital year end donations we rely on.
As we face a budget crisis in the coming year, The Foundling will be forced to increasingly rely on private philanthropy to provide quality care to our clients, tomorrow and beyond. We hope that those who have not been financially compromised by the storm will support us during this trying time. With the generosity of our friends, we will continue to empower thousands of the neediest among us to live the lives they’ve always dreamed of, and truly deserve.
We send good thoughts to all those impacted by the storm and best wishes for a speedy recovery.