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Shaky Acres in Dire Need of Funding
Matt Zalaznick - Independent
Rewritten by KAS

Shaky Acres has made it through several hurricanes without having to reduce the services it provides to the community's alcoholics and drug addicts who want to clean themselves up. But reduction in federal funding, and the recent two day closure of the U.S. Government, has left the 16 year old nonprofit organization in debt and in danger of having to put some of it's residents back on the streets.

"During all the confusions and shortfalls in funding, Shaky Acres never reduced it's services to the community," said Jim Dowds, director of the organization. "In doing that we ended up with the deficit we now have. To continue our present level, we need about $55,000."

The need is as great as the services we provide. If we reduce services, people are going to end up on the street, "Dowds said. "These people have problems with drug and alcohol addiction and not only will they be left without a home, many will resort to their former behavior - which is anything one can imagine."

To avoid having to turn its residents out, Shaky Acres has begun a sponsor-a bed program. The program asks for a donation of $1,000 to sponsor a bed at one of its three facilities. It is also accepting in-kind donations from people who do not want to give money. Shaky Acres will accept all types of  furniture and equipment, even if it's not in the best condition.

Since 1994, Shaky Acres has received about 30 percent of it's funding from the United Way. "If it wasn't for the United Way, we would have folded a long Time ago, Dowds said.

Another eight percent has been coming from federal emergency shelter grants. It has also been receiving  $37,000 a year through a Housing and Urban Development Grant.

Over the years, Shaky Acres has used a variety of methods to raise money, from bake and rummage sales, to raffles, to a charity golf tournament sponsored by Bellows International.

"We run a 33 bed operations in three locations with a budget of $120,000 a year," Dowds said. "That's less than $4,000 a person and that pays for room, board and all their expenses. "The US government's brief shut down, however, and a hurricane which temporarily closed several federal offices in Puerto Rico, struck Shaky Acres at a bad time. Just when it happened to be refurbishing a new long-term residential facility next to their original building in Lindberg Bay, Dowds said.

"It left us about $60,000 in the hole, we had a building that we couldn't use and the expenses were mounting," Dowds said. The Puerto Rican storm prevented HUD inspectors from coming to the VI to give Shaky Acres the approval to open the long-term facility. 

Shaky Acres has received and still is receiving a number of donations from private individuals, merchants, and corporations, Dowds said. " Unfortunately, it appears alcoholism is not a popular charity. Alcohol is an unpopular thing as far as donations go," Dowds said. "It's ironic, the needs are increasing but the available money is shrinking. At  some point, it will be necessary to reduce. Not only will we not be able to reduce people who come to us, but will have to put people who are in the process of being helped out on the street."  

Those interested in making a donation, sponsoring a bed, can call Shaky Acres at 777-5066.