Harder times for service organizations

Friday, October 21, 2011

This October marks the third anniversary of the Stock Market downturn in 2008. Although personal wealth across the nation has taken hits and rebounds, the Monett community has endured with mostly minimal damage.

However, the extended impact of the economic doldrums has started taking an additional toll.

At the October Monett City Council meeting, Building Inspector Wade Ennes commented about how construction of new homes has essentially dried up this year. Permits for remodels, garages and additions reflect homeowners are doing what they have been doing for a while now, retrenching and making due with what they have. Improvements like these do wonders for older housing stock that needed sprucing up.

Not that long ago one housing industry spokesman suggested tearing down all the empty houses to put contractors back to work. Such an idea is too wasteful for serious consideration and flies in the face of real trouble. Because of the Joplin tornado, area contractors will have no trouble finding work for years to come.

A much more subtle impact from the economic downturn is surfacing this fall for service organizations. A lot of businesses, struggling with eroding resources, have tried to sustain their support for local charities and groups providing a community service.

This autumn a sharp drop-off in that support is apparent. The tightening of budgets has been evident for some time, but this year the squeeze is showing.

The deterioration of community backing for service projects can have a chilling effect on much of what makes Monett especially wonderful. Older organizations that may not be the most glamorous face difficult choices about continuing.

When public support slides, grant money evaporates and business support is reduced, service organizations fall back on the last line of defense, the individual donor. As we know, the little guy is besieged from all directions these days, and yet the little guy alone can make the difference between a robust service community and a town that goes without.

If you are asked in the coming months to consider a donation to your favorite charities or service organization, please consider the request. There may not be a crisis looming that captures headlines, but for many of these organizations, their ability to carry on is reaching a critical stage. They may need you more than ever.