Local Charity Being Hurt by Rising Prices and Slowing Economy

June 13, 2008

 Preface: For those readers outside the Northeast Louisiana Region, “Twin Cities” refers to Monroe and West Monroe, Louisiana. My wife Nancy has been a member of the Twin Cities Mayors Committee on disAbilities for several years now and finally shamed me into joining with her. Actually, she made sure that I helped before, I just thought I should make it official. The Committee is a group of very dedicated friends doing great charitable work to raise funds to send some of our most challenged residents to college. Please, it maybe a local charity, but 100% of your donations go to helping a fellow Louisianan that probably has a much more difficult time doing the many things most of us take for granted. Recipients are given the opportunity to get a better education, become more independent, and contribute more to making Louisiana a better place to live. All donations make a difference and your generosity will be most appreciated.


Local Charity Being Hurt by Rising Prices and Slowing Economy


The successes of the Twin Cities Mayors Committee on disAbilities have grown exponentially over the past decade thanks to the dedicated leadership of Esther McGee and Chris Mayfield, but troubles are looming for these civic leaders and their hard working committee members.


With a troubled and slowing economy, the Committee is beginning to see a drop in donations. Some past and dedicated donors have had to scale back on the amounts they have generously given to the Committee’s scholarship fund, but worse, some have had to eliminate their donations completely. Having grown their list of scholarship recipients to record highs, the Committee is now faced with hard decisions to limit the extent they will be able to finance furthering education and maybe even be faced with turning away recipients before they have achieved graduation.


“We have been notified that at least three of our full-scholarships will be discontinued”, says Committee Chairperson, Esther McGee. McGee went on to explain that, “other donors are being forced to cutback on their contributions, as well.”


In 1998, Esther McGee took the helm of the Twin Cities Mayors Committee on disAbilities with barely $300 available for college scholarships. However, Esther was full of positive visions of what the Committee could accomplish and set out to put together a group that could make her visions a reality.


Esther McGee is the Statewide Parent Training Coordinator for Children’s Special Health Services.


Much praise has to be given to Mayors Jamie Mayo and Dave Norris for the contributions they have afforded the Committee by providing regular stipends to insure needed operating expenses and facilities to hold annual fundraising efforts. Without this support by the Mayors of the Monroe and West Monroe, the Committee’s successes would surely have been much more difficult, maybe even impossible.


With steady growth under the leadership of Esther McGee, an inspired Chris Mayfield, owner of FastServ Medical in West Monroe, took over as Chairman of the Committee from 2004 to 2007 and grew yearly donations for the scholarship fund to almost $18,000 dollars.


Recently, Ester McGee agreed to take back the responsibility of Chairman and continued the Committee’s growth with an astounding leap in yearly donations to over $27,000. It is important for the public to know that the entire fund, 100%, goes to paying for college scholarships for those worthy recipients selected by the Committee, which is comprised totally of volunteers.


Making nerves a little more frayed on the Committee, not only are they dealing with the already announced cutbacks by some dedicated donors; the received donations for this year are down from last year.


“If donations continue along these lines, we are going to be faced with some really hard decisions. No one wants to see any of our scholarship recipients turned away, especially before they are allowed to finish school and graduate”, said Nancy Bryant, Vice-President of Ark-La-Miss Patient Equipment, Inc and Chairman of the Membership Sub-Committee.


“This program is personally very important to me”, said Henry Bateman, Committee Finance Officer. Bateman, AT Financial Loan Program Director, LATAN, and a past scholarship recipient went on to say, “My heart is in this because I have a disability and I know what independence is worth. I know what an education is worth. Graduating from college has made all the difference in my life.”


With the Committee’s annual fundraiser quickly approaching, the Committee’s ONLY fundraiser, efforts have had to increase by the small and strained group determined to keep their unselfish successes growing.


“Working with scholarship recipients is one of the most rewarding parts of this Committee”, said Betty Futch, Assistant to the Hospital Administrator, E.A. Conway Medical Center and last year Shining Star Award recipient.  “To deny any of our currently qualified scholarship recipients the opportunity for continued assistance would be most unfortunate”, Futch said.


Lynn Armet, Vice-Chairman of the Mayors Committee and Chairman of the Public Relations sub-committee, which is in charge of the annual Awards Banquet, recognizes too well the challenges of having a disability. Lynn, a victim of Multiple Sclerosis, works as a facilitator for the local chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America and works part-time for Care Solutions. Armet said, “I am proud to be able to assist in this endeavor. All of the additional financial burdens associated with having a disability put a tremendous strain on budgets, which make it virtually impossible for some individuals to go to college without financial assistance.”

The public is encouraged to open their hearts and give whatever help they can afford, whether is be through direct donations or badly needed personal calls to family, friends, and neighbors to lend their support. This help is dedicated to our local community and it will require the local community’s help in making it a continued success.


This year, the Annual Fundraising Banquet for the Twin Cities Mayors Committee on disAbilities will be held at the Monroe Civic Center, July 15, 2008, at 6pm,. Use of the Civic Center for the Banquet is through the gracious donation by Mayor Jamie Mayo acting on behalf of the City of Monroe.


The public is invited to attend and meet with your friends, neighbors, local and state politicians, our judges, and the many other residents of our community concerned for the well being of those more challenged than ourselves.


Tickets can be purchased for $20 each at the door or by contacting Vicki Jacola at 318 362 0036, or through other members of the Committee. ALL money goes toward funding scholarships.


Anyone unable to attend the Annual Awards Banquet can send their donation to Twin Cities Mayors Committee on disAbilities (TCMCD), P.O Box 713, West Monroe, LA, 71294. Anyone wishing to join the Committee can contact Nancy Bryant at 318 982 7082 or email arklamiss@bellsouth.net .


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