Our Transition From Being a Volunteer-Only Organization

After some five years observation by the Robin Hood Foundation, The River Fund was invited at the beginning of summer 2012 to submit a grant proposal. The invitation opened the door for us to dramatically upgrade our operations from being a volunteer-only organization, to one that has the ability to compensate—at least partially—some of our key team members. The change would enable us to (1) expand our weekday hours to serve more needy households in our Benefits Access Center, and (2) establish a formal logistics team to handle the average volume of 100 tons per month that typically goes through our tiny facility.

In addition, a partnership with Robin Hood would make us into a SingleStop Center, potentially increasing the number of benefits and services we offer to our clients from 36 to 44. SingleStopUSA is a separate organization that was founded, organized and continues to be funded for its New York operations by Robin Hood. It pioneered the concept of having one-stop prescreening, prequalification and enrollment sites for benefits and services—thus saving needy families the expense and frustration of visiting dozens of different offices all over the city and waiting for hours in each place, just to see if they might possibly qualify for some help. The model has been emulated by dozens of groups around the City—including The River Fund. Having the opportunity to become a full-fledged SingleStop Center was a very attractive prospect for us.

By the end of the summer, Robin Hood had accepted our proposal and adopted us as a new member of their family of grantees starting on October 1: Immensely fortuitous timing that allowed us to ramp up our operations and respond to Sandy—which hit our city on October 29—at a level and with a capacity that would have been completely impossible for us as a volunteer-only organization. The combination forcefully impressed upon us how much we can really do, and has emboldened us to continue accepting every challenge that may arise as we serve our needy neighbors going forward. We are confident that you, our loyal donors, will continue to support the expanded areas of service that may present themselves.

Our Benefits Access CenterA client being helped to enroll in SNAP—the federal Food Stamp program—at our Benefits Access Center.

Free Podiatric CareOne of many clients of The River Fund refered to foot doctors for free podiatric care and free custom-fitted orthopaedic shoes.

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