Community Voices
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Boys & Girls Club members train in welding through the club’s Career Bound and Workforce Development programs. (photo: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor/Facebook )

At a time when government support of social service organizations is dramatically pulling back from pandemic highs while, conversely, the need for these services and support continues to grow, it is incumbent upon us nonprofits that we find a way to provide more for those who need us most rather than the status quo, or even worse — providing less.

Boys & Girls Club members train in welding through the club’s Career Bound and Workforce Development programs. (photo: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor/Facebook )

Compounding this challenge is the fact that the cost of facilitating nonprofit business today continues to increase, including ever-rising employee costs and inflationary increases in everything from supplies to utilities to subcontracting services and all other operating expenses. 

Also, a significant challenge facing nonprofits is that even when we receive public/government support, it is almost always a “reimbursement,” which means the organization must front all of the costs and then wait to be reimbursed later. That is a considerable cash flow challenge, especially for nonprofits with predominantly government-funded business models.

Regardless of these fiscal challenges, there are many reasons for our over 100 Los Angeles Harbor Area nonprofits to provide more while facing less government funding and higher business costs. Simply put, more youth/teens need “pathways to success,” more individuals and families who are homeless or need affordable housing, more of our neighbors who need medical, dental, and mental health support, more youth who go to bed hungry most nights, more victims of domestic violence, and so many more social service needs that are far too many for me to list here.

At the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor, the commitment to “more” has been our strategic focus for the past 30 years. During this time, we grew our sites from one to 24, and our operating budget from $270,000 to $16 million, but this isn’t enough. While it would be easy for our board and staff to become satisfied with the status quo, especially while facing the previously noted fiscal challenges, we must be creative while also being fiscally responsible and find ways to provide more.

Therefore, while it is incumbent for our many outstanding nonprofits to provide more, so too is it incumbent upon our private support of these institutions to also increase, especially given what assuredly will be ongoing public funding decreases given our state and federal government budget woes. These nonprofits need more individual, corporate, service organization, and foundation investments if we are to provide more youth development, affordable housing, medical, mental health, food support, senior services, domestic violence intervention, and so many more much-needed social services. We need private investment to help fill the hole of less public funding.

In a speech he made to students at the University of Cape Town in South Africa in 1966, Robert Kennedy said, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

In this time of great need for “more,” I ask our San Pedro community to consider increasing your support of our many impactful nonprofits. Your investments will translate into more positive impacts for thousands of our neighbors and families while making our community a more positive place to live.

Let’s turn a “ripple of hope” into a surging river of impact and improved lives. I thank you in advance and ask you to channel RFK’s 1966 appeal to your own action and improve the opportunities available for so many of us who struggle every day. spt

photo of san pedro today author Mike Lansing

Mike Lansing

Mike Lansing is the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor.