Thursday, August 02, 2001

Struggling center has fund-raiser

Festival proceeds are to help poor community

By Sarah Buehrle
Enquirer Contributor

        COVINGTON — The Northern Kentucky Community Center, a nonprofit agency recently plagued with budget troubles, will hold its fifth annual Community Fundraiser Festival Aug. 4-5.

        The agency hopes to raise $5,000 to $10,000 at the free event.

        Last year, the festival raised $10,000, but NKCC put $9,500 into creating the event. Executive Director Rollins Davis said that first the agency needs to build the festival's attendance, before the event becomes the largest fund-raising event of the year.

United Way cut hurt

        The NKCC, in the predominantly African-American East Covington community, has rededicated its efforts to fund-raising after losing funding from a charitable agency that had supported it. In May, the United Way cut $171,167 of the NKCC's funding for fiscal year 2002, reducing by nearly half the agency's budget.

        A fund-raiser might not be a surprising event in that situation, but the festival is free to attend, and provides free entertainment and free or nominally priced children's activities.

        “People living in the community, living anywhere, they need events that make them feel good about living where they live and doing what they do,” Mr. Davis said.

        He said his agency, which serves low-income families in the area with mentoring programs, day care and other services, expects a turnout of 5,000 to 8,000 for the festival. Up to 12,000 people have attended in the past.

Priorities await

        Any profit raised from the festival will go first to the NKCC's mentoring and day- care programs. If there is a surplus, it will go to Neighborhood Organizing, a community outreach program.

        Most profits are expected to come from selling food and from sponsors. The Covington Independent Public School System is the only named sponsor for the event. Bill Weathers, the system's director of community relations, declined to say how much the school system contributed.

        But he did explain why the system, which will have 12 volunteers rotating through an informational booth at the festival, felt a need to be at the event.

        “The Northern Kentucky Community Center has been in the community for many, many years, and has a history of earnest and effective work in the community. It's our community,” Mr. Weathers said.

Info, voter registration

        The NAACP will also be present at the festival, with an information and voter registration booth.

        The United Way cited management concerns and the center's inability to adequately show what it had accomplished with its United Way-funded programs as reasons for withdrawing its support.

        The United Way is holding the funds removed from the NKCC in escrow and is conducting community meetings and surveys to determine how to best use the money to help residents.


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- Struggling center has fund-raiser