A social services non-profit that served 3 counties is closing its doors in the fall after the executive director says funding has dried up.
After 45 years of service in Central Georgia's Houston, Crawford, and Peach counties, Hodac will close for good on September 30th.
It's been a rough five years for Hodac, Inc.
In that time, Executive Director Sherri Peavy says the social-service agency has lost more than a million dollars in funding.
“I think it's just the economy. People don't have the available money to give to other agencies no matter how worthy the cause is,” Peavy said at Hodac on Thursday.
The social services non-profit has seen donations dry up over those years. Peavy says last year they only brought in $6,500.00. She says at their peak; they could bring in $60,000.00 in a year.
Then in May and June, Hodac lost $365,000.00 from the State of Georgia, United Way, and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council that was used to operate their 1-800 helplines.
Peavy said that the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities moved the money away from the helplines, which led to United Way and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to do the same.
Hodac also lost revenues from the pay services it offered, according to Peavy. She estimated that over the last 5 years, they had lost $25,000 in revenue from pay-services like driving tests, classes, and drug tests.
All told, Peavy says it was too much to overcome.
“We all know what it's like to have funding cut and to try to make things work with less money and for us it has just culminated this past year in the losses being more than we can actually recover from,” she said.
A change in County financing also hurt Hodac’s bottom line. For years, Hodac received 100 percent of the County’s 5 percent fine money, which was money collected throughout County courts. But now, Hodac only gets 5 percent of that money, according to Peavy and the Houston County Board of Commissioners.
The Board of Commissioners said those fines, on average, bring in about $160-170,000 a year. Last year, Peavy says Hodac only got about $16,000 as a part of their 5 percent. The other 95 percent goes to other victim advocacy services in the District Attorney and Solicitor General’s offices and others.
Over the phone, two County commissioners said they were aware the non-profit was struggling financially, but were sad to know it was closing.
Now, the call center sits empty. Hodac says new technologies made dialing 1-800 numbers for help obsolete and then the funding disappeared with it. Along with their pay-services, the non-profit does advocacy work for sexual and domestic violence victims, as well as drug and alcohol prevention.
Kim Robertson runs the alcohol prevention program and says after nine years at Hodac she's staying positive thanks to the lessons her program teaches.
“One of the things that has taught me is how not to focus on the negative. And so, with me going over nine years, nine being the number of new beginnings, that's how I view it, it's a new beginning,” Robertson told 13WMAZ.
Robertson said she knew funding was struggling the last few years, but still was surprised at the news of the closing.
The call center was averaging 1,200 calls a month when it closed at the end of June, Peavy said.
Hodac estimates operators had helped 560,000 people over the phone alone the last 45 years.
Hodac says they are working with other advocacy and social services agencies to make sure no one will lose help when they close.
Peavy says Hodac's last day will be September 30th and the non-profit's 8 remaining employees will have to find other jobs. But, she said she was proud the Board of Directors decided to close the non-profit on their own terms without embarrassment.