Fred L. Goldenberg: Charities face challenges during summer months

·4 min read

Jul. 31—Every summer I receive at least a dozen invitations to charity golf outings in support of many worthy causes. For someone like me who loves golf, I could play in one at least once or twice a week. For many of the charities, the golf outing is their major fundraising event of the year. The competition is fierce. Fortunately, there's a lot of crazy golfers like me out there making the effort to run a golf outing (believe me it's a pain — I've done it) worth it.

But what happens to those other organizations that are also dependent on fundraising to maintain their programs throughout the year?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the economy and inflation is affecting many of the area's organizations. At that time, gas prices were at an all-time high and inflation was going up rapidly. Currently the annual rate is around 9%. But it only rose 1.3% last month compared to 2.6% three months ago, and gas prices have plummeted.

So how have these positive signs helped those running these important services for our community? I went back to one of the examples I used: Meals on Wheels. Although there are some communities around the country that are struggling to maintain services, it was quickly pointed out to me by Lisa Robitshek, the manager of the Grand Traverse Meals on Wheels program, that the program is thriving and no matter what challenges it faces, there will be no reduction in services to those in need.

It can't be easy for an organization that will not compromise its mission while facing ongoing economic challenges with the two main commodities it uses: food and gas. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, food prices have been outpacing the Consumer Price Index all year long. The index tracking grocery prices showed a 12.2% spike over last year. The largest jump since April 1979. Plus, even with a drop in gas prices, the average price per gallon is still about $1 more now than a year ago.

The program only receives 30 percent of its funding from governmental entities, so it is up to Lisa and her team to get the rest. No easy task when competing with everyone else for those almighty dollars. In our conversation Robitshek said, "We know how vital our service is for vulnerable seniors, and we are committed to providing Meals on Wheels to seniors when they need us the most. In order to ensure that we can always have the funding needed for our program, we need to continually fundraise on an ongoing basis. We are so grateful for individuals and businesses in our community who share this same passion. Now more than ever, this community support is so important."

Okay, you may be wondering what's my point. Well, Robitshek said it all. While we are enjoying this beautiful summer season with family and friends, she and her counter parts at every community service organization are fighting to maintain and expand their outreach to the people they serve.

Their job, their only job, is to serve the community and make people's lives better and in most cases they're winning. As a member of Bay Area Senior Advocates (BASA), I can tell you firsthand how tirelessly they work on behalf of their constituents. I only wish we had elected representatives who worked so hard for the people of the region.

We as a community have a job, too. That is to support those who work so others can thrive. Our mindset isn't on giving right now. I hear you saying, "come on, Fred; now's the time to play. We'll worry about others after our friends and family go home." But it must be now too, not only when your accountant says you need more deductions.

My challenge is this. I want you to make a mid-year contribution to the charity of your choice. Giving now will help make it easier for the rest of the year. So, join me in my mid-year charity crusade and give today. You'll be amazed how much better your summer will feel because you did the right thing.

Fred L. Goldenberg is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions, LLC, a financial services and certified health insurance organization, now affiliated with Michigan Planners in Traverse City. Questions or comments about this column or interest in their monthly Medicare classes can be directed to 231-944-1400 (option 1, option 5) or