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Boy Scouts cut ScoutReach program, lay off staffers
[November 18, 2008]

Boy Scouts cut ScoutReach program, lay off staffers

(Bakersfield Californian, The Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Nov. 18--The Southern Sierra Council of the Boy Scouts of America is eliminating its ScoutReach program and laying off five employees.

It's the latest example of the non-profit sector struggling in the economic downturn.

ScoutReach is an after-school program of extracurricular activities for disadvantaged youth. It has been around for about six years, but will be phased out at all 15 sites over several months.

Staff and program cuts are "difficult steps," said council president Ralph Goehring, but necessary in an increasingly challenging economy.

"We have to be good stewards of benefactors' and volunteers' gifts of time and money," he said.

The affected employees helped organize new troops and oversaw a vast network of volunteers, some of whom will take over the responsibilities of the staff who will be lost, Goehring said.

"We're going to ask them to step up and do more of that work," he said.

Lots of Kern County non-profit organizations are rethinking how they do business as donations plummet.

Among them is the Community Action Partnership of Kern, which administers 20 contracts for a wide array of services including child care, health and education programs and a food bank. The partnership is funded in large part by grants, and is bracing for cuts in the next round of funding.

"We haven't had to lay anyone off yet, but we're anticipating some problems and have a plan in place to avoid that, if our funding goes the way we're thinking," said spokeswoman Abby Tomlinson. "We may have to reduce retirement plans or benefits, things like that."

Donations to the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault are down about 40 percent, said associate director Diana Campbell-Rice, even as demand for the services escalates.

"We haven't cut programs or services, but it can be a staggering load to continue operations at the same quality under these circumstances," Campbell-Rice said. "We're just forcing ourselves to be really efficient."

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