By Sue Moore
Important changes have taken place at South County Community Services (SCCS) in 2014 and Danna Downing, the executive director, listed a few of them for the Vicksburg Village Council as part of her yearly report to the general public.
The budget for SCCs was dramatically affected by reduced funding for the next three-year cycle from the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo County Region (UWBCKR). “Fortunately,” Downing said, “the Vicksburg United Way allocation stayed steady.” In its plan submitted to UWBCKR, SCCS committed to using the money received from the parent United Way to provide emergency assistance to the 25,000 residents in its service area. The monies committed from the local United Way drive have been targeted toward increased community outreach. “The face of need has not diminished,” she told the council. She cited statistics about the working poor with 24 percent of the population in this area, and 17 percent more actually living below the poverty line. “That is why our food Pantry is now open four days a week, Monday through Thursday, so folks can stretch their money to take care of other basic needs. Persons interested in using the SCCS Pantry can simply make a call to Loaves & Fishes at 343-3663 on the morning they need some help putting food on the table.
In the 2014 strategic planning process the SCCS board committed to addressing facility issues at 101 S. Main and to create a more sustainable operational platform for the agency. Ultimately this led to far-reaching research about a possible re-location. When the announcement of reduced funding came this summer, it was clear something needed to be done sooner rather than later. As a result, the board decided to take advantage of a more affordable and accessible location at 105 S. Kalamazoo. In addition, a four-day work week plan was implemented in September. Together, these actions have reduced overhead costs significantly for the first six month of the three-year funding cycle.
The SCCS board firmly believes that improving awareness and support in the community and further developing partnerships with other agencies are critical to long-term success. Re-thinking the use of available resources and developing new funding strategies are also part of the strategic plan. “Our new membership program and streamlined operations that meet community needs, combined with continued strong local support, should get us where we need to go,” Downing concluded.