The Genesee Justice Foundation can now accept your donations.
The foundation was formed in the wake of the County Legislature nearly shuttering the pioneering restorative justice program when writing the 2010-11 county budget.
Only after then-director Ed Minardo resigned and staff agreed to cut back its hours was the program saved, but with the intent of creating a nonprofit fundraising arm.
The cuts saved $100,000, and that's how much the foundation must raise in 2011 to keep Genesee Justice going and restore staffing levels.
Some of that revenue may come from a grant the county's Job Development Bureau is applying for this week.
Both the Genesee Justice Foundation and the Child Advocacy Foundation have 501(c)3 (nonprofit) status pending, but until granted, the American Baptist Churches of Genesee County have agreed to accept donations on the behalf of the Genesee Justice Foundation.
Tiffany Szymanek, assistant director of Genesee Justice, delivered a report on the status of Genesee Justice on Monday afternoon to the legislature's Public Service Committee.
Szymanek said the agency is managing to do more with less, however.
Genesee Justice's case load is up significantly over a year ago.
Currently, Genesee Justice has 183 people in its offender programs, compared to 127 at this time last year, and 91 people, compared to 54 a year ago, are doing community service.
"It's harder than it was last year, but we're keeping up," Szymanek said.
In effort to save money, GJ renegotiated its lease, knocking down its rent on
the former Sheriff's Office on West Main Street from $1,500 per month to $1,200 per month. (See clarification below)
Most of that savings came because GJ agreed to take over its own lawn maintenance and snow removal.
The Batavia Kiwanis have adopted Genesee Justice as its annual project, and besides raising funds for GJ, the club has volunteered to help with lawn service and snow removal.
"We also have community service workers," Szymanek said.
The new foundation is being headed by Jane Schmider, president, and Mike Mohun, vice president.
As for the job development grant, that money would be used to fund a program to provide job training to young offenders (18-24). While the grant would come through the county's Job Development Bureau, GJ would administer the program. The grant could restore most of the staff's hours.
After Minardo resigned, a part-time position with Genesee Justice became vacant and Minardo took on the DWI conditional release tasks.
Szymanek said the foundation is eager for donations either from individuals or corporations. She said she will also be working on additional grant applications.
If the foundation is successful in fundraising, the annual revenue would be allocated to the county to cover Genesee Justice expenses and the legislature would decide how to budget the department.
Legislator Bob Radley asked Szymanek to provide a document showing revenue benchmarks and information on fundraising efforts.
Mary Pat Hancock, chair of the legislature, wondered how far along the fundraising effort was going.
"On paper, I understand the intent is to raise $100,000, but that's not the same as raising $100,000," Hancock said.
Szymanek said she will start providing a progress report on fundraising.
There will be a fundraiser for the Child Advocacy Foundation March 24 at Tully's.
CLARIFICATIONS: The lease issue and snow removal/lawn refers only to the Child Advocacy Center at 108 Bank St. Also, both Kiwansis and American Baptist boards still need to vote to approve their organizations' participation in supporting Genesee Justice.