A nonprofit organization struggling to keep its doors open got a big boost when a local Catholic church came to the rescue with a timely donation.
The Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant, pastor of St. Finbar Catholic Church in Bath Beach, recently showed up at the headquarters of Reaching-Out Community Services, Inc. in nearby Bensonhurst with a $10,000 check, which he presented to Tom Neve, the organization’s executive director.
Gelfant was accompanied by Alex Whiteaker, the church’s youth minister, and Charles Shelley, grand knight of the St. Finbar’s Knights of Columbus chapter.
Reaching-Out, a mainstay in Bensonhurst that sponsors a food pantry and assists clients in applying for government programs, operates out of a space at 7708 New Utrecht Ave.
But Neve said he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families coming to him for help. That fact, coupled with stagnant funding levels from government and private sources, has forced Neve to tighten his belt.
Reaching-Out barely has enough money to continue assisting the families that are already on its roster, Neve said. Neve told the Home Reporter in a recent interview that money is so tight that he had to stop adding new clients in 11 of the 16 ZIP code areas his group serves.
“When Fr. Michael Gelfant of St. Finbar R.C. Church recently heard of our situation, he contacted me and said he will do what he can to help, and yes he did. Reaching Out Community Services is so grateful to him,” Neve said in a statement his organization emailed to the community.
“This type of support gives us a reason not to give up,” Neve added.
The $10,000 from St. Finbar will “help us overcome our financial challenge where we are lacking funds necessary to help keep our doors open for those dealing with food insecurity,” Neve stated.
“Thank you so much Fr. Michael Gelfant for your support, you truly have encouraged me today, and I hope I can find further support for the sake of those who need this organization,” Neve stated.
Neve said he is seeing a sharp increase in people coming to his office for help, despite statistics showing a strong U.S. economy.
Reaching-Out, which has been open for nearly 30 years, might be forced to make drastic cuts if it does not get more government funding. A recent City Council allocation of $30,000 is welcome, but is not enough to keep the program open, according to Neve.
If Reaching-Out doesn’t obtain more funding, Neve said he will be forced to make an even more drastic decision.
“The next step is cutting off people who are already registered with us and who we’ve been helping,” he said.
Reaching-Out currently serves 9,800 families and operates with a shoestring budget.
Neve is grateful for the $10,000 donation from the church, but sources told the Home Reporter that serious efforts are underway to obtain more city funding for Reaching-Out.
Gelfant could not be reached for comment.