Much is made of dwindling government spending, but on Whidbey Island, it is nonprofit organizations that have always picked up the slack between people’s needs and government resources.
As a story in Wednesday’s South Whidbey Record described, literally millions of dollars are raised annually by nonprofit organizations in Island County and spent locally.
All this money is used to feed people, take care of senior citizens, provide resources to teens and families, help cover medical coasts, fix up aging homes, provide Christmas presents and Thanksgiving dinner, help with family planning, purchase precious pieces of land, and provide a myriad of other resources.
Some organizations by their nature must spent a good portion of the money they raise on administration costs. Big Brothers Big Sisters, for example, covers the entire island, needs to pay people, and faces costs for screening participants and staging major fundraisers. All this takes 25 percent of income, according to state records, but that still leaves 75 percent to directly help a child in need.
Good Cheer, our terrific food bank, spends a lot on buildings, employees, transportation and other costs, but still gives 62 percent to the needy.
Others are able to depend entirely upon donated labor and goods. A shining example is South Whidbey Hearts & Hammers, in which volunteers using donated materials fix up dozens of homes each year. That organization spends 100 percent of the money it raises on the services it provides. Friends of Friends Medical Support Group is another good example. Helping people with medical costs requires administrative costs, but it still manages to spend 98 percent of proceeds on clients.
We’ll risk embarrassing Lynn Willeford by pointing out that she started both groups. The South Whidbey Commons is similarly successfully, spending 100 percent of its proceeds on services for teenagers.
Meanwhile, the registered nonprofit groups are just part of the picture. Churches exist to help the needy, both spiritually and materially, and South Whidbey churches are very active in this regard.
In addition, fraternal groups and special interest clubs, such as the Lions, Eagles, Legion, Rod & Gun Club and Fishin’ Club, raise food and money for the needy and stage events to entertain children and families. There are many other examples, so please forgive us for any not mentioned.
We need government services, of course, but without our nonprofit organizations, Whidbey Island would be a much poorer place to live.