Local nonprofit fights budget strains

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LANSING – A decreasing donation revenue and increasing demand for services has placed a strain on local nonprofits.

Lansing Area Parents’ Respite Care, an organization that has been a part of the Lansing community for 25 years, provides families within Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties care for family members with physical, mental or age disabilities for free or at a reduced cost.

Nancy Guettler, secretary of the group’s board of trustees, understands the dire need of caretakers in Lansing.  Her son, who requires extensive in-home care, demands time from Guettler that she cannot spend on the rest of her family.

“He goes to a respite house on weekends and he has in-home care practically every day,” Guettler said.  “[Respite care] has been a big part of my life.”

Funding has become more difficult for non-profits as federal funding has come to a near halt.  Contractual work, which goes throughout the year, the center brings in about $700,000, said John Stauffer, executive director of the center.  It earns about another $200,000 a year from seven to eight grants and from donations.

“Two years ago, when I started as director, our budget was approximately $635,000.  Our budget this year is $1.1 million,” Stauffer said.  “We’ve almost doubled our budget in the last two years because of vastly increasing services and bringing on some new programs.”

The nearly doubled budget is a result of providing 80,000 hours of service, versus 45,000 total hours from two years ago.

“We have 75 respite care workers that will provide about 80,000 hours in respite care this year, and that’s giving care in the home, the respite house where they can drop their child off for the weekend, an adult daycare center, and also our after-school program and our summer camp program,” Stauffer said.  “It’s just exploded in terms of need.”

And according to the dramatic increase in demand of Lansing Area Parents Respite Center services, that need is projected to grow.

“Every year, it gets a little tougher,” Gerry Mutty, a board of trustees member said.  “When I started with LAP, we got big federal grants and we hardly had to charge families anything because it was so heavily subsidized.  Those [funds] have dried up completely.”

With financial help from sponsors and guests, the $14,000 goal for the fundraiser event entitled ‘Like a Fine Wine’ became feasible through donations and bids on auction items present at the event.

Danielle Robinson, a representative from Jackson National Life Insurance, presented a $5,000 grant towards the respite center.

“[Lansing Area Parents’ Respite Center] applied four or five years ago before they even had this event, they started applying for grants and we started funding the work that they were doing,” Robinson said.

In the 1970s, children with disabilities would normally be placed in an institution.  Families now have the opportunity to keep members with mental or physical illness at home.

“I spent a lot of years working with family support,” Mutty said.  “I’ve found the attitude with families is that ‘we’re happy to have our child at home, but just need a break now and then’. That’s where our respite center comes in.”

“We have the respite house over by the hospital, and families can drop their child off on Friday night and come back on Sunday night,” Mutty said.  “So during that weekend they can just have more time with themselves, more time to do household shopping, and in many cases more time to spend with other children in the family, because it’s difficult when you have a child demanding that much time.”

Editors note: Here is a timeline of events in the history of Lansing Area Parents Respite Care

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