July 29 – Weeks after averting a financial crisis that threatened to close its doors, Family Resource Center leaders painted an optimistic picture of the not-for-profit crisis intervention and referral agency at its annual meeting Saturday.
Joining supporters, board member and staff members at the meeting at Palms Court Harborview were Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, Delegate Donna M. Christensen and Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen. All three politicians pledged their support for the agency that is best known in the community for helping victims of domestic violence.
Many of those present were supporters and volunteers who came to the aid of the agency when word went out about its dire financial straits earlier this year. Michal Rhymer, executive director, called the gathering "a very special annual meeting."
Its theme was "Community Partnerships: Making a Difference at Family Resource Center." Rhymer said it was a fitting focus, because of the role businesses and private donors played in April after the board announced that day-to-day operations were being severely hampered by government budget cuts. Through individual efforts, board members raised $40,000 in emergency funds with the help of private donors, including those who made out-of-pocket cash contributions.. Others wanting to help responded by volunteering their services, Rhymer said.
"With the tragic prevalence of domestic violence and other social ills that plague the Virgin Islands, it is necessary for all of us to reach out and offer a hand of help and support," Christensen told the gathering. "Not everyone has done their part. But you, the members of the FRC, and your supporters and partners have. And we applaud you — particularly those of you who have devoted your lives to helping others, giving of your time, talent and treasure to this important cause, often without recognition, and sometimes even disparaged for your efforts."
Christensen, the keynote speaker, had hopeful news as well, sharing information on several new federal and corporate grant opportunities. Rhymer said the delegate flew in from Washington, D.C., for the meeting, and "brought some very good information … about the federal grants that are available to our agency," as well recommending some private foundations to approach for funding.
The governor told the group he would do whatever was necessary to make sure the center has sufficient funding in Fiscal Year 2003, in order to avoid a repeat of 2002, in which the requested funding level was drastically cut. The governor's proposed FY 2003 budget requests are being reviewed in public hearings before the Senate Finance Committee, which Hansen chairs.
Hansen, too, "committed herself," Rhymer said, "and she said she believed she would have the support of her colleagues to not give Family Resource Center one penny less than we were granted this year."
At a special session in May, the Legislature approved a $100,000 supplemental appropriation for the agency. For Fiscal Year 2002, its V.I. government funding had been slashed to $60,000 from $150,000 through a series of budget cuts. (See "Family Resource Center 'can't do more with less'".)
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.