Napa job program for disabled scrambles

NAPA – A nonprofit responsible for the employment of several hundred disabled Napa residents lost close to 20 percent of its state funding this year, and organizers are racing to prepare for more cuts expected in 2010.

“We completed our first-ever fundraiser this year, and we are getting ready for our second. We have done our best to keep the cuts as far away from the people we serve as possible and so far have sustained the same level of service,” said Napa Support Services Executive Director Beth Kahiga.

“Even with the help, we are not sure what will happen if there is further erosion of funding.”

The organization with a history extending close to 60 years operates from three locations in Napa, offering life and vocational skills training in addition to connecting clients with employment.

The group incurred cuts averaging about 20 percent from two state funding streams, or about 3 percent, 10 percent and 33 percent to its three programs. For the first time this year and more so in the next, the organization will rely heavily on donations and participating employers.

The state is also requiring the center to close four additional days in the year, which will further cut income as revenue is also received for attendance. In an effort to trim overhead, the group has stopped using grant-writing consultants, and Ms. Kahiga has assumed the responsibility.

Officials were able to garner about $30,000 with the first fundraiser in April, and they hope for at least the same amount during its next benefit May 2 at the Silverado Resort. The Napa Valley Community Foundation is among its top philanthropic supporters. The nonprofit includes a staff of 66 and an annual budget of about $3.5 million.

 “Our administrative overhead is already so low, and we can’t really take any more away from that,” Ms. Kahiga said.

Currently, Napa Support’s clients work with about 75 employers in several industries including food service and retail. New employer participation could also provide further funding for training programs.

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