By Naomi Pescovitz
Dec 11, 2014
For almost 30 years, the Dayspring Center in downtown Indianapolis has helped homeless families with shelter and basic needs. Now, its executive director says it is in a crisis, with dwindling donations and a growing need.
"We've had to dip into our endowment in order just to make it. But those funds are running out as well. So now we're at a stage where we are really going to have to consider what the next step is," said Dayspring Center Executive Director Lori Casson.
Their options include cutting services or closing their doors.
"We currently are in a crisis situation as far as finances are concerned. The demand for our services is up, however our donations and capital are down," Casson said.
The first program on the chopping block would be the center's case management program which provides follow up and support so clients do not return to homelessness. Dayspring is a unique shelter. It is one of the only local programs that can help an entire family at a time.
For the past four months, Dayspring has been home for Aja Johnson and her two daughters.
"Sometimes we don't always say anything because we are embarrassed, or we can't find the help, so we kind of suffer quietly," Johnson said.
Jonson has two degrees. She had a good job until she was diagnosed with Lupus. She could no longer work or afford her medical bills, but she found Dayspring.
"There are times when I am not able to walk for weeks at a time, so either living under a bridge probably, or my mom would have the kids. I don't know honestly where I would be at," Johnson said.
About 14 families are housed at Dayspring at a time, they help 150-200 families a year. They receive 400-500 requests for help each month.
"It's difficult when you think about the number of families, and the number of children that will not receive services because Dayspring would not be here. It's a tragedy," Casson said.
"You never plan for things to happen, so if something does happen, you never know when you might need a service like this," Johnson said.
At least five jobs at Dayspring are also at risk, if the shelter can no longer fund their case management program. Casson says the real challenge could come after the holidays, when less people are willing to give time and money.
"It's so easy to help. It's not that difficult. It's not that time consuming and it's so easily done. And I think a lot of people just don't realize how easy it is," said Dayspring volunteer Heidi Feick.
In 2000, the shelter had to shut its doors for three to four months when the well ran dry. Less than one percent of their funding comes from the federal, state and local governments.
Click here to help Dayspring