Computer Crash Means No Money for Local Non-Profit

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - From basic needs to crisis intervention, dailing 211 provides help for thousands in West Central Georgia every year.

But this year, more than 50 percent of its funding has been cut from the budget.

So, what is the 411 on 211?

When you call the number, you've been talking with someone at Contact Chattahoochee Valley for 30 years.

Donna Cassell is the executive director, she helps people with...

"Their utility bills, their rent, their prescriptions," Cassell said. well as a host of other issues.

Every year, the non-profit agency relies on the United Way for funding.

This year, that funding came to an abrupt end.

"You cannot imagine, you have no idea, how sick we were," Cassell said.

It turns out, the company's computer crashed the day they were supposed to submit their application for the funding.

Despite an extension by the United Way, and a last-minute effort to get the paperwork done, they didn't get it in on time.

Scott Ferguson is the President and CEO for the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley.

"When you're a funder and you are funding so many different organizations, you have to follow the rules," Ferguson said.

But he maintains that Contact Chattahoochee Valley, Inc. can apply for funding again next year.

"And we'll work with them over the next year to help them comply with it," Ferguson said.

In the meantime, 211 will stay open for business.

The five staff members will work to raise every penny they can, in between calls, and, if necessary, take a pay cut...

"We are not going to go away, as I said, it's going to be a challenge, but it's one we're going to meet head on," Cassell said.

United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley released its 2009-2010 funding numbers.

They are investing more than $5,000,000 into nearly 50 programs over the next 12 months.

Both sides of the issue hope to re-establish the financial relationship next year.