First Stop of Huntsville Begs for Help after Furloughing Employees

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A non-profit organization in Huntsville that works tirelessly to help the less fortunate and homeless is having critical financial problems.  In fact, managers were forced to furlough employees this week and aren't even sure of their own future stability.

Ironically, signs hang all around the building of First Stop highlighting ways for less fortunate people to find work, improve their education and their lives.

That's what the seven staff members there do fulltime: help some 100 homeless people.

"We actually help the client out from top to bottom, from the mental state, from money management, from re-housing to health screens, to everything," said Jody Slay, Case Manager Supervisor.

"We're also actually in the process of doing a job fair here, which is kinda ironic since we had to furlough some people," said First Stop Executive Director Tashaunda Weeks.  She said Tuesday, five of the seven staffers there found out they're on furlough this month due to a severe shortage in operational funding.

"My paycheck has been cut by 40 percent," said Slay.

He's lucky he can work three days a week as case manager supervisor... one staffer was told not to come in at all this month.

"I don't know if we're going to have to lay people off indefinitely," said Weeks.  "I just don't know that."

Weeks said it's due to a delay in receiving monies from two grants that keep the non-profit afloat.

She explained First Stop of Huntsville can't get help from their regional office in Birmingham, because it too is having financial problems and furloughing employees.

So the Huntsville office's only hope is the generosity of people across the Tennessee Valley to come up with at least $15,000 to help them make it until August, when they hope their grant money will arrive.

"It's really difficult because you don't know," said Weeks.  "We may end up in the same position that our clients are in because most of us already live from pay period to pay period."

Weeks said no money means fewer services for those who already have next to nothing.

And many of the First Stop staffers are trying to provide for their own families, including small children.

Any donations to First Stop would be greatly appreciated and are tax-deductible.

You can donate by stopping by their office at 206 Stokes Street in Huntsville, or sending in a check by mail.  Their zip code is 35805.   You can get more information by calling them at 256-533-3391.

First Stop serves at least 100 homeless people, providing meals, counseling, and training to get them back on their feet.

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