Gas Prices Hit Charities Hard

Local charities are forced to curtail their services and with fewer volunteers as they cope with the rise in fuel prices. A local banking institution offers relief and challenges other corporations to step up to help. Pat Hernandez has more.
High gasoline prices are hitting the non-profits on all sides. Ann Neeson, vice president of donor relations for the United Way says it's impacting charity work behind the wheel, forcing volunteers to quit doing things like delivering meals to seniors and taking patients to the doctor.

"And they're looking at whether or not they're going to be able to continue this service, because it's so important that they get patients there, but they can't do it, they cannot afford to load vans up with the fuel they need to make that happen."

Jose Villareal is executive director of AVANCE, an organization that promotes parenting and healthy marriage guidance for the benefit of the children. He says they increased the number of services this year, but at the expense of the cost in utilities, food, fuel and transportation.

"We normally prepare our budget in April, which we did, but we're going back and revising our budget right now because we saw the rise in prices. The effect of that really start to hit us in May and June. And you're running thirty-days behind, you get billed for services that take place in April, for example. We went back and said our budget is totally out of sync, we have to go back and make some revisions."

photograph of Paul Murphy, CEO of Amegy BankAs non-profits force to do more with less, Amegy Bank announced a gasoline grant program, awarding twenty 1-thousand dollar grants to charities so they can purchase gasoline. Melissa Treadway is development coordinator with Child Advocates.

"We need to show actual numbers. Put it right out there that  just the figures add up that if we don't have some funding to help with the gas prices, we could either lose volunteers, we could have to reduce services, we won't be able to provide as many visits as we normally do each month, actual services will have to be reduced."

Non-profits applying have until the end of the month to apply for the grant program and must meet certain criteria. Paul Murphy, CEO of Amegy Bank, says they've offered a challenge to other corporations.

"I think that the more attention we get on the issue, then the better off the whole community is and I really do hope that the friendly challenge will get some people's attention, let them focus on it more closely, and see if they can dig deep and help, because the need out there is tremendous."

Congress is being urged to give a bigger tax deduction to those who drive their own vehicles for charities. Right now it's just 14-cents a mile.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF- Houston Public Radio News.

Above photograph: Paul Murphy, CEO, Amegy Bank
Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez


Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...