Officials of one Columbia County nonprofit agency hope several grant proposals result in approvals and awards.
Because one grant recently ended and other grants were reduced, Julie Miller, the executive director for Columbia County Community Connections, said she laid off the agency's office manager in April.
"It is unfortunate. I don't want people to get the impression we are going down the tubes or anything like that," Miller said. "It is just the normal ebb and flow of nonprofits."
Based in Harlem, Community Connections is dedicated to building partnerships in the community and finding resources to benefit children and families throughout Columbia County.
It operates numerous programs for area school students and community families, including Young Women of Excellence, youth leadership programs, internships, mentoring and tutoring programs, GED support, Camp Hardy, abstinence and substance education programs, and assists with Harlem's Summer Feeding Program.
"The problem with grants are you can't save money for a rainy day," Miller said. "You have to use it within the grant funding cycle or else you have to give it back."
With the tightening economy, Miller said funding sources also tighten. The agency took a hit earlier this year when an existing grant reduced its funding for Community Connections by $20,000, Miller said.
The agency, which is operating on a $220,000 annual budget, depends on an annual $50,000 from the state Legislature.
"That is the one constant that we are able to count on," Miller said. "Everything else, you hope and pray and you write as good a proposal as you can. Sometimes you are selected and sometimes you are not."
Miller said no programs have been cut. With the construction of the new Community Connections and Head Start building in the Harlem City Park, she's hopeful the agency will continue to expand, not cut back.
With four grant applications pending, Miller said only one grant award would fill the void from the reduced grants. She expects responses on three of the four applications soon.
"We want to make sure our programs don't go away," she said. "We want to make sure there is continuity."
In the meantime, Miller said she and her staff are watching spending and handling the office duties that their office manager once handled.
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