Austin's House, an emergency children's shelter located centrally near the Douglas/Carson border, is celebrating five years of providing care for children in crisis by launching its inaugural annual campaign, the "2012 Appeal for Kids."
"We are so fortunate for the support of the surrounding communities over the past five years," said Kyle Holmstrom, treasurer of the Austin's House board of directors.
The facility was built entirely with donations from the community and opened in September 2007.
"A lot has changed since we opened our doors. Not only did the VOA Shelter in Carson City close its doors, but also we've seen the economic downturn place additional stress on families," Holmstrom said. "Both of those things have combined to place more demand on Austin's House as the only children's shelter in rural Northern Nevada. We continue to see a mix of kids come in from Carson City, Douglas, and the surrounding communities."
Although community support has been tremendous, raising the funds necessary to take care of children in crisis who must be removed from their homes is always a challenge for Austin's House.
"We are extremely proud of our financial record," said Holmstrom. "In 2011, we had revenue of $275,000 and expenses of $269,000. Over 75 percent of those expenses were for payroll to directly provide compassionate care for the children. The rest of the expenses are items like insurance, groceries, and utilities." Operating costs are down to about $100 per child per day Holstrom said.
"Many of these kids need the utmost attention and care given their circumstances," he added. "We provide a terrific level of around-the-clock professional care for these children for less than it would cost me to hire a teenager to come watch one of my own small kids for 24 hours."
The Austin's House Board of Directors has traditionally partnered with numerous businesses and groups in the area to raise the majority of their annual revenue through fundraising events. The board is looking to improve the situation by supplementing fundraising efforts with more repetitive giving going forward.
"As we enter our second five years in operation, we will absolutely need the continued generosity of civic groups, foundations such as the Austin Kirby Foundation led by Patty Clark, businesses such as 1862 David Walley's Resort, and employee fundraising efforts like we've seen at GE and numerous other businesses. We also hope to establish a steadier stream of donations that will allow us to more comfortably exceed our expenses," said Holmstrom. "As part of the campaign we have giving levels for every budget. Our Daily Club is a $100 donation that will care for one child for one day. Other donation levels include the Food Club, Professional Club, and the Go Green Club. These plans pay for a major annual expense such as groceries, insurance, or utilities. Room sponsorship is another unique giving option."
Anyone interested in learning more about Austin's House, about its campaign or in making a donation can contact Austin's House at 267-6711 or visit www.austinshouse.org.