Church steps up efforts to help Brown County poor after cuts to nonprofit


LAKE BROWNWOOD, Texas - North Lake Community Church Pastor Rob Keener says the poor in Brown County are being undermined following a decision commissioners made last month.

"We're all being affected because we're saying no to a very important part of our community: the poor," Keener said.

Brown County Commissioners last month approved cutting the contributions the county makes to Good Samaritan Ministries by more than half. The nonprofit helps feed the needy and assist some with rent stipends.

Keener spoke up twice against the cuts during public hearings held at commissioners court in September, but he doesn't know why commissioners ultimately passed the budget decreases.

"I've searched and sought for the agenda and I don't have an answer for that," Keener said.

Although it is not available on the county's website, KTXS obtained a copy of the 2018 Brown County budget.

It shows Good Samaritan Ministries will only get $4,800 this fiscal year, which began in October. In 2017, the county budgeted $14,000 for the nonprofit, but gave them $9,200.

Good Samaritan received more in the 2016 fiscal year, with commissioners contributing $15,100, according to financial records.

On Wednesday, more than 2,000 cans of tuna collected during National Night Out were donated to the nonprofit.

Executive Director Leesa Stephens said the recent food donation won't impact the budget shortfall commissioners voted to impose.

"It's a different fund," Stephens said of the affected funds. "It's used to help pay with rent and utilities, those type of things."

Keener said the cut imposed on Good Samaritan is an injustice to the poor.

"We hope through this cut that our church can say to all of this county, we're going to step up," Keener said. "We're going to take a leadership role."

His church will hold a fundraiser for Good Samaritan Ministries on November 4 outside of the Walmart Supercenter in Brownwood.

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