News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, August 11, 2010
AUGUSTA---The economy is affecting a local non-profit organization, forcing its directors to make cuts. Five employees at the Golden Harvest Food Bank have been laid off indefinitely.
Michael Firmin, the executive director, says he had no choice but to send the employees home. Firmin says the poor economy is partially to blame for the current problems.
Even though the organization had record distribution numbers during the last two months, there are still revenue shortfalls. In June, 1.2 million pounds of food was distributed, and in July that number rose to 1.4 million pounds of nutritious items. Still, Firmin says the layoffs were unavoidable.
“Monday was the most difficult day in my 28-year career as the director of Golden Harvest," he said. "I have an awesome staff; that's why it was so difficult. We simply weren't having the money come so that I could continue to pay people.”
Sometimes a little help from “friends” can make all the difference, especially during hard times. On Wednesday afternoon, the food bank received an unexpected donation.
“We've decided as a board to give back to the community, and today was the day we came out to present the check,” said Jill McCoy, outgoing president of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. The group donated $1,000 to Golden Harvest.
"There's probably no better time to give back than now with the way the economy is,” added McCoy.
Firmin says the poor economy is partially to blame for the current financial fix.
"When people just can't even give to the food bank, you know it's bad out there,” said Firmin. "There is no other charity that is more needed than the food bank."
McCoy hopes other organizations or donors are willing to dig deeper and help out too, even though times are tough for many other charities trying to stay afloat.
"All of us are committed to making every single penny stretch as far as possible, and the remaining staff is committed to do whatever it takes,” said Firmin. “I know that people in our area have a heart too."
Firmin says that the new budget year begins on October 1, and the pay and salaries for those employees who were laid off have not been budgeted. Until the organization is back on track financially, Firmin says they will have to be conservative in their spending.
To make donations, contact Golden Harvest Food Bank at 3310 Commerce Drive Augusta, GA 30909, or call 706-736-1199.