Non-profits face post-Katrina challenges

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Form new partnerships, get creative with funding and share resources. Representatives from dozens of non-profit groups came-up with those suggestions during a conference in Biloxi on Thursday.

The Foundation for the Mid-South organized the Gulf Coast Rising seminar to find out how those agencies are faring six years after Katrina.

More than 50 non-profits took part in the discussion and idea sharing.

All share similar challenges, like overcoming the "triple whammy".

"We had Katrina, then we has the oil spill, and now we, like everyone else, we have the economy. What the economy has done is taken what's happened to us since Katrina, that got expanded somewhat by the oil spill and now it's getting continued by the economy," said Carol Hewett, with the Jackson-George Regional Library System.

Not only faced with economic uncertainty, there's also the fact Katrina and oil spill money is drying-up.

"Even though they tell you they're one time funds, non-profits count on those kinds of funds," said Becky Montgomery with Mississippi Power Company.

"People came in and they gave money. But that was six years ago. That was four years ago. Now they say you guys are supposed to have overcome. You've got a house that needs repairs, they say let's tear it down," added Bob Smith, from Mt. Zion Church.

These various agencies not only rely on shrinking government dollars, but on personal donations. And those too may fall victim to economic woes.

"Your community organizations are funded by individual donors and they are hurting because of the economy," said Matthew Caston with Mid South Foundation.

As for solutions, there is much talk of collaboration and future partnerships.

"The impact one might have, just one of us, is minuscule. But collectively, if we can work together and form these collaborations, then that impact is multiplied many fold," explained Bill Stallworth with Hope Community Development.

Representatives of these non-profits used this conference as a networking opportunity to create more partnerships.

Foundation for the Mid South is the group that organized the conference. Following Hurricane Katrina, the organization partnered with more than 100 different agencies and non-profits.  It helped allocate some 150 grants totaling more than six million dollars.

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