Beacon Rescue Mission reacts to Harnett County’s nonprofit funding cut
By Eliot Duke
Dunn Daily Record
Amos Love discovered a long time ago that running a nonprofit means being able to adjust on the fly.
Beacon Rescue Mission, like many other nonprofits, relies on donations to help further its mission of helping people who need a little boost.
COVID-19 strained the agency’s finances as the mission elected to place its residents in hotel rooms in an effort to prevent spread of the coronavirus. With limited finances already stretched, Love found out that Harnett County commissioners elected to scrap all nonprofit funding for the upcoming budget, including the $5,000 designated for Beacon.
“It took me my surprise,” Love said. “When you run a nonprofit, you learn to be very agile with your finances. You do as much as you can and help as many people as you can, but you also plan on setbacks.”
Beacon Rescue Mission joined nearly two dozen other nonprofits turned down for funding by the board as commissioners felt community organizations should take on the responsibility of providing donations and not taxpayers. The mission received money from the county the previous two years, and Love said current funding would have helped pay for much-needed renovations to its headquarters at 207 W. Broad St. With residents staying in hotels for much of the pandemic, the nearly vacant building provided the perfect setting to tackle improvement projects such as laying down new floors and replacing windows.
“Outside donations are a huge part of our budget,” said Love. “We just have to figure what we’re going to do with that piece missing. That [$5,000] would’ve covered about half the cost of the flooring materials.”
Love withheld judgment on the commissioner’s vote until he heard the reasoning for the decision.
“I’m not going to form an opinion until I know what they were using to form their opinion by,” Love said. “I don’t know what their budget numbers looked like. Were they working with a huge deficit? Before I decide whether I hate it or I love it, I need to see what they based their decision on, numbers-wise. We have to do that here: We have this much money and we have these projects to do so what are we going to do and not do?”
Beacon’s Office Manager Timothy Chappell said the nonprofit already receives nearly all of its funding from donations. The mission’s five thrift stores generate more than three-fourths of all revenue with community donations accounting for the rest.
“I’m still processing the information so it would be tough for me to comment,” said Chappell on the commissioner’s decision. “We don’t sell anything that we produce ourselves so you could say 100% [of funding is donated].”
Beacon serves as an emergency shelter with a focus primarily on finding people a job and helping them get back on their feet. Residents must pass a drug test, find a job and learn how to create a budget as they prepare for a transition to independence. Over the course of the pandemic, the agency, which normally houses 40 people, spent more than $100,000 placing an estimated 130 people in hotel rooms. Love said the nonprofit needed additional support and a lot of prayer to make it happen.
“I don’t know how we made it through,” Love said. “We just took it one day, one week at a time, and the Lord provided. It’s not more devastating or unexpected than anything else. The community coming together has really been vital. Through everything that was going on, the Lord provided through here and there and just people making donations. We’ve not lacked for anything and that’s because the Lord meets our needs, not because of my genius.”
Regardless of decisions made by elected officials or the amount of money sitting in its coffers, Love said the agency’s true mission won’t change, whether the power is on or not.
“We’ve been doing this for over 30 years and the goal of the mission is to share the Gospel,” said Love. “If there is funding available or not, we’re going to continue to do that. Whether the money dries up and we have to turn out the lights, we’re going to sit on the porch and do that. That’s the ultimate goal is to share the Gospel.”
Love took the news of commissioners not funding nonprofits in stride. After his 20 years in the business, which was started by his parents, he learned to adapt to bad news.