Ministry fights to serve community despite budget impasse

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE

Many organizations are struggling with the state’s budget impasse and one non-profit in Carbondale that provides services to the needy is no exception.

Good Samaritan Ministries, which is usually allocated $100,000 in state grants, has yet to receive any money because of the budget deadlock. The ministry functions on a $500,000 annual budget that comes from donations, which make up about half of its total budget, and government grants.

“We’re struggling,” said Mike Heath, the ministry’s executive director. “It’s a very difficult situation.”

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About six weeks ago, Heath said the ministry-operated soup kitchen in Carbondale was in danger of being shut down.

With the help of the Carbondale Interfaith Council, the ministry was able to keep functioning regularly. Heath said the soup kitchen is a little more problematic during the impasse because it doesn’t receive any grants and only receives money from donations that are not specified for any of the ministry’s other programs. 

“We’re trying to get donations, and people locally have been really good,” Heath said. “We’ve made it, and we’re hoping we will continue to, but the longer we go, there’s a great big hole that we don’t have from the state.”

Melissa Lewis, of the ministry’s board of directors, raised $1,000 from fundraising. Lewis and a group of five other people ran 25 miles along the Tunnel Hill State Trail on Nov. 21 with supporters pledging to donate a certain amount for each mile ran. They planned to run 50 miles, but had to stop because of freezing temperatures and rain.

Lewis said they wanted to make people who were donating feel like a part of something and not like they were just writing a check. She also said the run was less about money and mostly about raising attention for the ministry.

“It really just created a lot more awareness, and for me, that’s what it was,” Lewis said. “It’s wonderful that we raised a thousand dollars, but I was really trying to create awareness for Good Samaritan [Ministries] more than anything, so people would really see there’s a need there.”

Good Samaritan Ministries must still uphold state regulations and guidelines even without funding, so the ministry is performing the state-funded work without the state funds. Heath said even if a budget is passed by the first of the year and funds are appropriated, the ministry will have to wait an additional month before it receives a check.

“You’ve got another big, long period of time with no money,” Heath said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, so it’s hard to say what we’re going to do.”

Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3326

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