Oil crisis strains non-profits in South Mississippi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil crisis strains non-profits in South Mississippi

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi charities and non-profit organizations are experiencing a financial strain because of the oil spill.

The disaster has increased the demand for many social services at a time when donations are down.

Food pantries and mental health providers are among the social services feeling the pinch.  But there are special programs now underway to provide some much needed financial support to area non-profits.

Non-profits housed in the Knight Center benefited greatly from an outpouring of donations after the hurricane. But those post-Katrina dollars have basically dried-up, leaving charities scrambling to meet the disaster demands of the oil crisis.

"Now, sustainability of local non-profits is very difficult. You add on what they need to do to help with the oil spill issues, it really is putting a burden on the non- profit organizations," said Rich Westfall, with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

That's why the Gulf Coast Community Foundation has launched the Mississippi Oil Recovery Fund, to help meet the growing demand for social services.

"Food banks. Particularly case managers dealing with potential foreclosures. Mental health issues are really beginning to surface, again. So those are some of the key areas," Westfall explained.

Beau Rivage promises a significant contribution to the oil relief fund.

The casino resort will host an evening with comedian Jay Leno next month, with all proceeds donated to the Community Foundation's oil relief fund.

"We know that there are going to be many, not just short term immediate, but longer term issues," said Sue Suter, the CEO for United Way of South Mississippi.

She raised the plight of non-profits at Friday's town meeting with Ken Feinberg, the man overseeing BP's $20 billion compensation fund.

She emphasized the many and various needs of families directly impacted by the oil spill.

"Child care centers where children are being pulled out of their child care center because parents, even if they do have income, are trying to save money in the event it dries up. So, there are definitely impacts with people," said Suter.

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