With a little help from our friends: Community support vital to local nonprofits

JoAnn Sadler couldn’t help but smile as she and about 25 others completed a bungee cord exercise at the Onion Creek Senior Citizens activity center.

Sure, the workout itself was strenuous at times. But for Sadler, the exercise she and many others came to take in was well worth it.

Such is the goal of the OCSC, which provides a place for Buda area seniors to stay active in their golden years. The OCSC is one of several area nonprofit organizations that receive funding from a variety of sources, including from local municipalities.

JoAnne Sadler gets pumped at an Onion Creek Senior Center exercise class. (photo by Moses Leos III)

Sandra Grizzle, a longtime volunteer at the OCSC, said funds the organization receives funds from several places, including Hays County, which provides a $12,000 grant to the center.

The city of Buda also plays a role in providing funds to the OCSC. In the Fiscal Year 2016, Buda approved the organizations request for $7,000.

Those monies go toward monthly operation expenses, which include paying the mortgage and utility bills, along with flood insurance.

Grizzle said funds from the city and county have increased over the last few years as they’re seeing the benefit the center brings to the area.

“A lot of the younger people will help us because they know their parents are aging and we’re a place where their parents will want to come,” Grizzle said.

The Backpack Campaign, orchestrated by the Hays Caldwell Women’s Center, raised funds for local children to receive backpacks for the new school year. Above, volunteers meet to fill the backpacks with school supplies. (photo courtesy of the Hays Caldwell Women’s Center)

The Hays Caldwell Women’s Center is another organization that also receives funds from city and county governments.

Melissa Rodriguez, HCWC director of community partnerships, said Hays and Caldwell counties, along with Buda, Luling, San Marcos and Dripping Springs all allocated funds to the HCWC last fiscal year. The center provides shelter for victims of domestic violence and helps provide resources for many affected families.

Rodriguez said obtaining funding from cities can vary, depending on how a city is doing financially.

How cities allocate those funds can vary as well.

Buda Mayor Todd Ruge said giving money to nonprofit organizations is “one of the toughest decisions” a city council can take up.

Three years ago, the city commissioned a committee to help allocate the funds, which also in turn took pressure off of city leaders. The committee is comprised of representatives of the hotel industry and business owners who come up with recommendations for allocation.

Nonprofits that wish to obtain funding from Buda must fill out an application with several guidelines. One of those rules includes reporting an approximate number of Buda residents the organization helps out. If awarded funds, nonprofits must provide a quarterly report of how it has helped residents.

“We recognize the good a lot of these organizations do for the community,” Ruge said. “We also have citizens that use a lot of services. We feel it’s our duty to pay our fare share to citizens who use those services. But talking about taxpayer money, we have to be careful how we allocate funds.”

Even with a small contribution, Rodriguez said it goes a long way for the center’s ability to obtain state and federal grants, which comprises most of its revenue. Rodriguez said state and federal grants are interested in knowing if a community is making that investment.

“What we tell cities is, even if it’s just what one would consider a modest amount, it goes a long way for us to list them,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not the amount, but that the city supports the organization. That helps us in other funding areas.”

For some organizations, fundraising also helps toward keeping the doors open.

Grizzle said the OCSC participates in Amplify Austin, a regional fundraising event for nonprofits, which she said was a “good money maker for us.” They also hold several local fundraisers, such as monthly dances and dinners.

With more seniors moving to the area, Grizzle said younger residents are realizing the importance of the nonprofit.

“As more people move here, they call city hall to find out what the city has to offer seniors,” Grizzle said. “We in turn are helping the city.”

Private support is how the HCWC also obtains additional funding.

Organizations such as the Lions or Rotary Clubs, as well as larger foundations such as St. Davids or the Texas Pioneer Foundation program.

Rodriguez said there has been a shift in how people view nonprofits today and donating to their causes.

She said in the past, people weren’t supportive as they didn’t understand the complexity of issues such as domestic violence.

Exposure, primarily through social media, provides additional support.

“We’ve got good support from the community through that exposure. It’s growing all of the time, it’s evolving constantly,” Rodriguez said.

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