“Do you build prisons, or do you invest in children?” were the words of South Hills Interfaith Ministries (SHIM) Executive Director Jim Guffey as he spoke to the Whitehall Borough Council on Wednesday night, asking for its support in the continued funding of his organization.
Particularly, Guffey wanted the Whitehall Council to formally back his organization’s efforts by contacting higher-ranking government officials and asking for their support, as well.
Guffey told Whitehall council members that SHIM is looking at cutting programs and/or a block of employees should it not receive a favorable amount of Allegheny County funding soon.
According to its website, SHIM’s (in Whitehall) was established in February 2007 through funding from the Allegheny County Department of Human Services after Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh and Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Pittsburgh began in the area over a decade ago. Prospect Park has also become home to many immigrant families.
The Family Center is free to all families living in the area and focuses primarily on families with children aged 5 years or younger. All of the Family Center’s programs intend to provide needed services for those adjusting to life in the United States. The programs also promote self-sufficiency through education and help children to succeed in learning, including at .
“We’re just here (at Wednesday’s Whitehall Borough meeting) to make you aware of our situation and ask for your support when it’s possible.”
After hearing Guffey, Whitehall Councilman Robert McKown directed borough Manager James E. Leventry to draft a letter to Allegheny County Executive-elect Rich Fitzgerald, county Councilman and Pennsylvania state Rep. Harry A. Readshaw to ask for their support in the continued funding of SHIM.
Guffey stressed that not funding programs such as his organization’s would only lead to increased government spending further down the line in order to cope with problems arising from refugee and immigrant families trying to handle settling into a new country on their own.
2012 Budget Hearing
Leventry announced that the public is invited to a hearing on Whitehall Borough’s 2012 budget. The hearing will be held at the beginning of the Whitehall Council’s next regular meeting—in the on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m.