Archive for the ‘Mental Health Services’ Category

Young Girl

This time of year, notions of love get wrapped up in the trappings of Valentine’s Day, with its hearts and cupids and romantic proclamations. Unfortunately, all too often when people think of love, this is all that comes to mind … the superficial, rather than deeper and more long-lasting expressions of love. With love, it doesn’t matter so much what you say but rather what you do. Don’t tell me you love me; show me you love me, instead.

At Volunteers of America, we express our love for others by taking action to help society’s most vulnerable people. We house the poor and the homeless, provide treatment to those suffering from addiction or mental illness, and provide an extra helping hand to seniors who have no place else to turn.

As the scripture states in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”

Sometimes the greatest expressions of love come from caring for others who are hard to love. Many of those Volunteers of America serves are people who some caregivers might not be willing or able to help. But true love doesn’t always come easy, and we don’t turn away when the task seems too difficult.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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Let’s be honest about the “fiscal cliff” and the faulty logic that claims that charitable tax deduction is a benefit for the wealthy that won’t be missed. Political leaders touting this bromide are justifying proposals to redirect these dollars away from important work happening in communities nationwide.

Congress is seriously considering caps or cuts to the charitable deduction. The potential result—millions served by America’s nonprofit sector will be hit with the double whammy of government cutbacks and decline in the support of organizations like Volunteers of America, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Boys & Girls Clubs and the American Cancer Society.

Quietly and humbly carrying out extraordinary missions every day, it may be easy to overlook the nonprofit sector as a growth industry and vital part of America’s social and economic fabric. Limiting or doing away with the charitable deduction at a time when people are still reeling from the recession and budget cutbacks simply makes no sense. It won’t help the federal government avoid the fiscal cliff. It will simply shift it to the nonprofit sector and communities that depend on it.

Hundreds of leaders serving our communities will travel to our nation’s capital December 4-5 to make sure elected officials understand what is at stake. These leaders of the Charitable Giving Coalition include more than 50 of America’s most active charities, nonprofits and other organizations. We are speaking out to protect a 100-year American philanthropic tradition that encourages giving back and strengthening communities. We’re also urging anyone committed to protecting the charitable deduction and the communities served by charitable giving to make sure their voices are heard.

We aim to pierce the “inside-the-beltway” bubble with a reality check from thousands of communities outside the beltway about what is at stake—crucial programs and services, from food pantries and medical research to youth programs and seed grants to support new businesses and job creation.

Data suggests that for every dollar deducted through this incentive, communities receive $3 of benefit. No other tax provision generates the kind of positive impact. But, if donors have less incentive to give, donations decline. The result is the loss of billions of dollars to support worthy causes, the jobs they provide, and the millions they serve.

According to Giving USA individual contributions to charitable causes in America account for 73 percent of all giving. These donations help achieve breakthroughs and benefits that put our country on a path of continuous improvement. A new public opinion poll commissioned by the United Way found that most Americans (79 percent) believe reducing or eliminating the charitable tax deduction would have a negative impact on charities and the people they serve. Of those who indicate they would reduce charitable giving, the majority (62 percent) indicate they would have to reduce their contributions by a significant amount—by 25 percent or more. Two out of every three Americans (67 percent) are opposed to reducing the charitable tax deduction.

The message is clear. Americans want to protect the charitable deduction.

And, consider this: Nonprofits generate $1.1 trillion every year through human services and provide 13.5 million jobs. They account for 5.4 percent of the GDP and 9 percent of all wages paid. The diverse nonprofit sector supports efforts to, for example, develop technology and medications to improve our health—like insulin, the polio vaccine, the MRI, electron microscope and pacemaker, provide educational opportunities and access to health services and ensure housing and shelter for the most vulnerable. Other nonprofits enhance the arts and cultural activities, conserve wetlands and protect the environment, protect civil and voting rights, and preserve historic treasures.

Now is not the time for Congress to dismantle a tradition that supports America’s nonprofits and the people and causes they serve. No doubt our nation faces a fiscal crisis that must be addressed, but Congress should stop seeing the charitable deduction as an easy mark and acknowledge the fiscal cliff they will create for America’s most vulnerable at a time they can least afford it. Giving strengthens our communities. Urge your members of Congress to preserve the charitable deduction.

Click here to add writing to your member of Congress to preserve charitable giving to your GOOD “to-do” list.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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During Volunteers of America’s first years in the early 20th century, our founders and their faithful followers adhered to the tenet “to go wherever we are needed and do whatever comes to hand.” More than a century later, this philosophy continues to guide Volunteers of America’s ministry of service.

You may have noticed that the programs and services provided by Volunteers of America in one part of the country can look completely different than those offered in another. Our approach is to assess the more than 400 communities we serve individually, identifying each one’s unique unaddressed needs We understand that a one-size-fits-all solution is not the best way to help those in need. Because all people and all communities are different, that’s the only way to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of those we serve.

The professional staff at Volunteers of America is really a 16,000-member family, and as you know, a family’s greatest strength is in its diversity. We’re experts in the needs of children, low-income families, the elderly, the homeless, veterans, those with disabilities and the incarcerated. We also understand that to fix many problems, we must help multiple groups and address multiple needs at the same time, taking a comprehensive approach that ultimately builds stronger communities.

And while we’re a national organization, we know that our work is most effective when it’s done locally. Examples of this can be found in places like Sioux Falls, S.D., where Volunteers of America recently hosted its national conference. While many of the problems in that community, such as poverty and substance abuse, are the same as in other places where we have a presence, the unique people in this community come with their own unique issues that must be considered. In South Dakota, Volunteers of America is a leader in providing services specifically to the Native American population, and we incorporate our clients’ culture into the services they receive.

Volunteers of America has always been a national organization providing services that meet local needs. In an age when taking a custom approach to anything has become increasingly rare, we strive to make sure our clients receive care that fits their unique individual needs. The people we help deserve more than just a cookie cutter solution to their problems. We make sure that they get the best individualized care possible. At Volunteers of America, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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The recent tragedy in Tucson sheds light on a great crisis in mental health care playing out in our country. There are many people in our society who need mental health services but don’t have access to them. The needs of those with mental illness often are pushed aside or ignored until it’s too late. And unfortunately, mental illness still maintains a stigma that other health care issues do not.

For a generation, the mental health safety net in our country has been eroding. Programs and facilities for those with mental illness have been closed and funding has been cut. Thousands of people who suffer from these conditions live undiagnosed and untreated.

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a freeze on federal funds for nondefense discretionary expenditures over the next five years. This would likely include spending on social services such as mental health care, and may turn out to be a best-case scenario. Many in Congress want to cut funding for these programs significantly, returning funding levels to FY 2008 levels. While we certainly want our government to be fiscally responsible and take a hard look at funding for nonessential services, we also must be careful not to further erode much-needed services like mental health care that were already underfunded to begin with.

Volunteers of America has always understood the importance of mental health services as an essential part of helping many who we serve live better lives. Mental health counseling is a central part of many of our programs, including those for the homeless, veterans and those recovering from substance abuse. Fostering strong mental health is part of our integrated approach to addressing the root causes of our clients’ problems and helping them live independently and self-sufficiently. Our other efforts would be in vain if we didn’t first focus on any underlying mental illnesses.

To do this, of course, requires adequate funding. It is especially important today, with the spotlight now focused on the dangers of untreated mental illness and the current trend toward government funding cuts, that current services are not eroded even further. We must overcome the stigma that comes with mental illness and see this kind of care as an important part of helping people get their lives back on track.

Please join me in keeping the important issue of mental health on our national radar screen. The problems we address now may save lives in the future.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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