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Frisco STYLE Magazine

In a Time of Need

Oct 01, 2022 ● By Mallory Arnold

Photos Provided by Frisco Family Services

The annual inflation rate in the U.S. reached 9.1 percent in June 2022 – the highest since November 1981, when it hit 8.6 percent.

While inflation is seriously putting a strain on businesses and consumers alike, another group is also struggling in the current economic climate: nonprofit organizations.

As costs of goods and services rise, some nonprofits and charitable organizations grapple not only with providing the same level of assistance to clients as in previous years, but also may experience difficulty in meeting the heightened demands spurred by inflation.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Foundation for Philanthropy reports that charitable giving this year decreased by 5.6 percent since 2021.

It may be surprising to learn that in Frisco, some nonprofits and charitable organizations are struggling with inflation’s impacts.

Frisco Family Services (FFS), which for nearly three decades has provided support and services to members of the Frisco and Frisco ISD communities who have experienced unseen crisis, has been hit hard by inflation.

 “Our first quarter of the fiscal year … always tends to be a bit lower in terms of giving,” FFS Executive Director Nicole Bursey says. “But this year, I feel like the first quarter (was) especially slower from a financial contributions standpoint.”

FFS assists people dealing with financial stress — from feeding Frisco ISD students during the summertime who usually get lunches during the school year, to paying for the utilities of families who are floundering due to an unexpected job loss or illness.

Last fiscal year, FFS spent around $140,000 on food purchases alone but, due to rising costs, will spend $30,000-$50,000 more this year.

“Most people don’t think about (inflation) from a nonprofit standpoint,” Bursey says. “Our food costs and everything we do has also increased.”

 Although gasoline prices have decreased slightly in recent months, in 2021 FFS spent 60 percent more than what was budgeted to purchase gas cards for its clients so that they could get to job interviews, medical appointments and others.

“It’s really making sure we’re being wise stewards,” Bursey explains. “There may be money budgeted, but we need to look for opportunities to get things sponsored and cut costs in one area to accommodate in another area.”

Refresh Frisco President Elizabeth Watkins says that organization is also feeling the strain. Established in 2019, it aims to ensure that children in the community have access to personal hygiene products and serves more than 14,000 youngsters by supplying them with hygiene packages every three months.

It’s a big job that requires assistance from churches and donation drives as well as the purchase of items in bulk. Recent supply chain issues, coupled with inflation, have made the challenging work undertaken by Refresh Frisco even more difficult. 

 “We were buying a lot of our products at discount stores like Dollar Tree, which is now really $1.25 Tree,” Watkins says. “That 25 cents doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a 25 percent increase. When we’re buying in bulk, that’s a big deal for us.”

Each distribution Refresh Frisco conducts costs approximately $50,000, which Watkins assumes will increase.

This year, the organization moved into a warehouse space — a big step up from the four storage units it previously had. With the larger space, Watkins says Refresh Frisco now needs all the help it can get. “We’d love community members to come in and volunteer … help us sort donations, stock shelves and pack hygiene products.”

Frisco Moms Who Care President Kim Kao is also concerned about rising inflation. The nonprofit organization often works with other area charitable organizations to supplement or fill in gaps in community funding for families in need through financial assistance, clothing, meals and other support.

For example, Frisco Moms Who Care supplies smaller emergency hygiene packs to hold families over until they can connect with Refresh Frisco. It also stores food boxes from Garland-based nonprofit Trusted World.

 Another way Frisco Moms Who Care is working around inflation costs is by planning in advance for the holiday season. In the summer, it began fundraising and hosting donation drives for items that will be needed later this year.

In the past, “We wouldn’t even think of taking donations until late October (or) early November,” Kao says. “This year, though, we started planning in August. We’re already worrying about how to get Thanksgiving meals (to donate) because it’s going to be much more difficult year.”

Frisco is a generous community, but it can be difficult to know how to help especially when those most in need may be hesitant to ask for assistance.

“It’s hard to be in need when you have the idea that so many people are doing well,” Bursey says. “We’ve seen a lot of families who come in for the first time saying, ‘I’ve never had to ask for help before, so this is really hard.’”

Frisco residents “really loves to give,” Watkins says. “They just need the opportunity and the push.”

 Ruby and Dolores (who asked that their last names not be published) came to Frisco Family Services for help during the pandemic. They say not only was it difficult to locate assistance, but also to reach out for it.

“The pandemic hit me so hard,” Ruby says. “When I came here, it’s like the place came down from Heaven. At the time, I was so confused and didn’t know what to do, but these people understood.”

Dolores says she has been treated with respect at FFS. “They make me feel important again. … You can’t put a price tag on what these people do, you just can’t.”

Mallory Arnold is a freelance writer who enjoys long walks, crime podcasts and hanging out with her cat Ariana Grande.