Valdosta Daily Times


May 19, 2013

The business of giving

LAMP and Homelessness

VALDOSTA — In a 2008 paper titled, “Is Doing Good Good for You? How Corporate Charitable Contributions Enhance Revenue Growth,” the authors found that “charitable contributions are significantly associated with future revenue,” concluding that “our analysis supports the conclusion that charitable contributions by U.S. companies enhance future revenue growth ... Doing good is apparently good for you.”

Now, it’s important to note that the paper found an association between charitable giving and revenue growth, not a rock-solid, one-to-one correlation, not an “x” amount of giving leads to “y” amount in profits. Still, it’s food for thought, something to consider. For some businesses, giving is built right into the company ethos.

“As a not-for-profit, we want to help other non-profits as much as we can,” said Mike Beverly, Southeastern Federal Credit Union board chairman. “With the economy, donations are down in general ... but we’re able to touch other lives.”

This past Tuesday, SFCU donated two vans to local charities, one to LARC (Lowndes Advocacy Resource Center) and one to LAMP (Lowndes Associated Ministries to People). LAMP focuses its energies on homelessness, offering a roof and food to homeless people who want it, classes for those who want to get back on their feet, and assistance for those homeless who choose to live on the streets.

“Sometimes, people, through no fault or reason of their own, they end up destitute,” said Darryl Wood, SFCU interim president and CEO. “It can be hard to understand, when you’re surrounded by family and friends, what they’re going through. They need someone to turn to.”

Started in 1984, LAMP was founded with the mission statement that “all persons are created in the image of God ... all of God’s children have dignity and the same needs of food, clothing, shelter, and love.”

For love, LAMP relies on volunteers. For food, clothing, and shelter, they rely on donations, both from individuals and from businesses.

“For every dollar we don’t have to spend on these things, like food, linens, clothing, etc., we can spend more on the residents themselves,” said Chris LaMontagne, LAMP’s assistant director.

Spending on residents varies depending on the person. For some, that means emergency medical or dental care or life-sustaining medications. For others, that means attending classes and working towards a GED. Or childcare.

“We will do anything the client needs to become self sufficient,” said Gayle Moreen, shelter director. “Georgia Military College holds a food drive for us one semester and a baby product drive for us the next semester, stuff like diapers, bibs, formula. People are usually surprised to find the number of children that LAMP assists.”

Any given day, LAMP helps anywhere from five to 30 children, with the majority of them 12 or younger. If they’re already enrolled at school when they come to the LAMP shelter, the organization works with local school systems to keep them in that school. If they’re not enrolled, LAMP enrolls them.

For some of their biggest expenses, businesses have stepped up to help LAMP. Beds For Less offers a discounted price on linens and bed accessories. A drug company donates the kind of drugs families keep in their medicine cabinets: Ibuprofen, cough medicine, etc. And Atlanta Bread Company helps by donating food.

“We donate any leftover pastries, muffins, etc.,” said ABC General Manager Dan Bruzek. “We do it for a several organizations, actually.”

Every night, Atlanta Bread Company’s pastries and breads are baked fresh. At the end of the day, they usually find themselves with five to 10 pounds of assorted goods left over.

“We’d much rather donate it than throw it away. We don’t want to waste it. There’s a lot of people out there who are struggling right now, especially with the economy the way it is. And we get a certain satisfaction from helping them out.”

Any company that wants to give back to the community is faced with a decision: What to give to? There’s no shortage of worthy causes to support — homelessness, hunger, education, various medical researches. The Times will be looking at some of these in the coming weeks, both at what local businesses do to support these causes and the impact of these donations. Of course, every non-profit has to make the same decision: Why to support what they decide to support?

“Because there’s a need there,” said LaMontagne. “We’re here to help homeless people in any way we can. A lot of people want to turn a blind eye to it, but it exists here. No one should have to be homeless if they don’t want to be.”

“You strip it all down to humanity,” said Beverly. “Helping others. That Christian ethic of helping out others in need.”

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