Nonprofits team up as funding dwindles

Posted: Monday, October 11, 2004

If one of the tenants at Channel View Apartments on Gastineau Avenue can't pay their rent, local social service agencies can help foot the bill.

Channel View, an affordable housing complex backed by social service groups, is an example of the power of collaboration among agencies, said Dan Austin, general manager of St. Vincent de Paul, a family homeless shelter in the Mendenhall Valley.

"Nothing that goes on at St. Vinny's can happen without the power of volunteers and collaboration," Austin said.

Austin, United Way of Southeast Executive Director Jodi Kilcup, and Elizabeth Williams of the Boys & Girls Club of Juneau talked about the need for collaboration at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon Friday.

For years, many organizations opposed collaboration because of turf battles and fear of losing programs and staff, Kilcup said. But government and private funding cutbacks over the years have threatened services which continue to have great need, she said. To maintain those services, more agencies are collaborating and should continue to do so, she said.

"I think people do get set in their ways," Austin said. "People who've been in this business a long time become protective of their particular piece."

Channel View Inc., a coalition of local social service agencies, owns the 22-unit apartment building which overlooks South Franklin Street. Residents moved in April 30 and include young working people and older retirees, said Austin, also president of the board of Channel View Inc.

The housing complex was purposely built to allow stakeholder social service agencies help low-income clients maintain housing, Austin said. Some tenants have been homeless in the past, he said.

St. Vincent's helped the homeless again earlier this year when Southeast Regional Resource Center's adult education program was slated to be cut. SERRC failed to get a $48,000 city block grant for 2005 for its adult education program. St. Vincent's kept the program alive with a $10,000 donation, Austin said.

"The extent that someone is going to escape from homelessness starts with people's ability to get a good job," Austin said.

With a staff of seven, St. Vincent's has collaborated with Catholic Community Service to supply staff and other resources to execute its programs, he said. For example, CCS provides case management services to 25 residents housed in St. Vincent's homeless shelter in the Valley. Also, CCS and St. Vincent's equally share the costs of child care for low-income and nearly-homeless residents.

Marc Wheeler, executive director of Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Juneau, said he hopes to collaborate with CCS on a new program, Amachi, which provides mentoring to children of prisoners. Amachi is based on a model started through Big Brothers-Big Sisters in Philadelphia.

"I'm a strong supporter of collaboration," Wheeler said. "I'm a firm believer there are limited resources in the non-profit world."

Wheeler's office received a three-year $300,000 federal grant to administer the Mentoring Children of Prisoners grant. CCS also received federal funding for the same program. Wheeler hopes the two agencies can work together and not compete for volunteers to help administer the program.

Big Brothers-Big Sisters hopes to begin serving 80 children statewide the first year beginning this month, Wheeler said. A 70 percent chance exists that children of prisoners will also end up in prison without intervention, he said. One of the big challenges, Wheeler said, is having the resources to locate these children who are often passed to various care givers.

Wheeler has teamed with Gastineau Human Services, which has a contact in the prison system, who can facilitate the process of locating the children, he said.

"There's such a huge need and I don't see why we can't sit down and share resources," Wheeler said.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at

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