Women's shelter maintains financial stability -- needs continued support

By Rozella Hardin

STAR STAFF


   "The Shepherd's Inn has had a challenging, but progressive year with its financial development," said Paul Gabinet, Interim Executive of the community's shelter for victims of domestic violence and the temporary homeless.
   Gabinet, who was asked to assist the shelter's board with operation in July 2000, reports that in June 2000, the Inn had approximately $10,000 indebtedness accumulated from operations. By January 2001, the indebtedness had been paid and a surplus had resulted from community gifts and grants.
   According to Gabinet, 18 months ago the shelter's board of directors approved a purchase of a home for Shepherd's Inn at a cost of $165,000. Today, the shelter owes approximately $132,000 for the home and all reported accounts are current. "Not bad for a community project where all of the operational income must be received from gifts," said Gabinet.
   He further reports that the operational budget has been trimmed to nearly half of the previous year without compromise to services and programs for those victims of domestic violence and homelessness.
   Questions about the Inn's financial stability arose in April when the Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency reported the immediate suspension of all funding to the shelter. "This was devastating to the Inn's budgeted cash match for the Emergency Shelter Grant Program award of nearly $48,000," Gabinet said. Much of the grant funds were to be used for renovations, but were forfeited as result of the EHDA's action. However, after reconsideration, the EHDA recently approved the award of $12,000 designated for the shelter's house payment. "We have had a wonderful relationship with the EHDA. Their past support has been nothing less than extraordinary and all those connected with The Shepherd's Inn join the community with gratitude for their review and announcement of this support for the shelter," says Gabinet.
   Funds used for The Shepherd's Inn from the EHDA are not part of the budget of the Housing Agency. "The funds paid to the shelter through the EHDA are from funds designated as the Financial Adjustment Factor, or FAF account, and were initially approved by authorities with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Knoxville," explained Gabinet.
   Other financial actions for the shelter include the change of the fiscal year from the calendar year to July 1 - June 30 as recommended by the shelter's accountant, T. Alan Walls, CPA, PC. In the Compiled Financial Statement -- January 1 - December 31, 2000 -- the shelter showed assets of over $172,000. This included the newly purchased property and accounts. "Even though The Shepherd's Inn is totally reliant upon financial gifts for its operation, the financial reviews indicate a sound financial operation," Walls said. Also, a customary financial review of the ESGP Grant Award of 2000 was held during the summer by an Auditor/Certified Public Accountant and a State Monitor. The receipt, expenditures, and application of federal funds for the Inn were reviewed and as stated in the official report "identified no findings of noncompliance during the monitoring review."
   Records indicate that since opening, the Inn has served approximately 450 women and children as a result of domestic violence or homelessness. "It's difficult to think of the shelter as a business when you are concentrating on the physical and emotional well-being of the women and children who come to us. However, we are pleased that all financial reviews have indicated good business practices by the Inn's board. We must have the financial stability and the backing of the community to provide this life-saving service. One of our financial goals is to pay the balance of the house as soon as possible. Once that is accomplished, the need for operating funds will be reduced by approximately $14,000 per year," Gabinet said.
   "When you think about it, there hasn't been a death in our city resulting from domestic violence since the shelter opened four years ago. Unfortunately, that could not be said about the four years prior to the opening of The Shepherd's Inn. How does one put a price on a life? This is a house of security, peace, hope and love and would not be here if not for the belief and support of our city, the EHDA, churches, civic clubs, businesses, grants, and individual friends," the interim director said.