Benzie Area Christian Neighbors (BACN)
August, 2017 Update
Earlier this summer, we received a hand-written note along with a monetary contribution towards our Summer Match. “Thanks for all you do for N. Manistee and Benzie County. Although our family is only a part-time resident at Platte Lake for 3-4 months a year, we feel that BACN is an important part of our giving. I continue to be impressed with your website, annual report, and commitment to the community. Here is our $250 towards a slice of BACN’s $100,000 pie.”
Why is this so important? Only 41% of our area residents live here year-round. Almost 40% of Benzie and Manistee county households earn less than a living wage and struggle to meet their needs. It’s no coincidence that these figures are so close. We so appreciate the Summer Match support of folks who live elsewhere part of the year. Our hard-working year-round residents depend on this help to keep our area such a great place. We are grateful for this help!
Our 2017 Summer Match Campaign is well-underway. The history of this program is heart-warming and inspiring. In 2010, the J. L. Mulvaney Foundation approached BACN with an offer to contribute up to $20,000 in a dollar-to-dollar match to support our annual operating budget. Since then, they have increased their contribution, currently providing a $50,000 dollar-for-dollar contribution.
Our community has embraced the challenge, meeting the match each year. BACN’s ability to serve our neighbors has been transformed through the foresight and generosity of the Mulvaney Foundation and the commitment of individual donors. So far this summer, we have reached 75% of our target. The Summer Match Campaign ends on August 31.
This year’s campaign is particularly significant as we explore how to best serve our ALICE population (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). According to the United Way ALICE project, the number of families that are struggling financially – across the country – is much higher than federal poverty guidelines suggest. It is important to note that Federal Poverty Guidelines were first established in 1963 and have had minimal updates in the ensuing years.
ALICE represents those who bring home a paycheck that doesn’t stretch to meet household needs. Most ALICE workers are glad to have a job, are proud of their work, and are happy to contribute to their communities. However, with little financial cushion, they are one crisis away from poverty. According to United Way data, the median income in Benzie and Manistee counties is under the state average, and both unemployment and the percentage of ALICE families are above the state average.
This data highlights the significant challenges facing BACN. As a primary source of human services in our area, we are most often the first organization that families turn to when facing an emergency situation. In 2016, BACN served over 6,000 individuals and directly assisted 1,500 area families with immediate aid – food, clothing, and financial assistance.
To address current and future needs, Board members and BACN staff are deeply engaged in an Action Planning Process. TEAMS are currently documenting the history and current state of BACN from the perspective of four areas of focus: Programs and Services, Organizational Development, External Stakeholders and Internal Stakeholders. This work will provide the foundation for identifying Key Initiatives to address in the next 12 months and will help us create a clear picture of a future state that is aligned with our mission and values.
Thanks for your support as we work to move BACN from “good to great” and “built to last”!