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Interfaith Forum needs help with its helping programs

March 1, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

The thing is, Interfaith Forum is running out of money.

Demands on its resources seem to increase daily, said president Donna Esmay.

"Because of the economics and the winter, there's more need," she said. "The churches are supportive, but because of the increase in need ..."

She didn't even finish the sentence, just shook her head slightly and sighed. "I don't want it to sound like we need money, but we do."

Interfaith Forum provides money for two programs - the transient fund and the Ministry Resource fund. The transient fund is for people who may find themselves in need of help as they're traveling through Fort Dodge, and the Ministry Resource fund is for Fort Dodge residents only.

People traveling through the city may need a tank of gas or a place to sleep for the night, Esmay said. "Before when people would do that, they'd go from church to church to church to church, knocking on doors and asking for help."

Now, transients in need are helped through the Salvation Army and Upper Des Moines Opportunity, Esmay said, "so we get a request from the Salvation Army to cover what they've done."

With diminishing funds, covering may not happen, which will put added burden on the finances at the Salvation Army. It's a vicious circle=

Sharka Alstott, the social service program manager at Salvation Army, said the agency served 47 transient cases from June through December of last year - individuals or couples - and that doesn't include the count from the Fort Dodge Police Department. Through mid-February, the Salvation Army already has worked with 15 transient cases this year.

The need seems to be growing at a time when the funds are dwindling. That's like being caught between a rock and a harder rock.

And it's not just the transient fund that's hurting. The Ministry Resource fund, a last-resource fund for people living in Fort Dodge, also needs a shot in its pocketbook. Money from that fund, which must be approved by the Interfaith Forum, helps people with lodging in specific circumstances and also with special transportation.

Esmay told about a young mother who realized she could no longer keep her children in her home and asked the Interfaith Forum if it could provide transportation for the children to their father.

Sometimes the reason for money is more poignant than the fact that money may not be possible.

So, if you have anything to spare - anything at all - you could donate it by sending a check made out to the Interfaith Forum to the treasurer, the Rev. Gary Snook, First Church of the Nazarene, 1250 N. 25th St., Fort Dodge, IA 50501.

It's like with anything - if everyone gives a little, no one has to give a lot.

Think about it, but do more than think. Get involved. Write the check.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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