Hopes to reopen in November after raising funds
A cash shortfall at Santa Barbara’s Unity Shoppe caused the nonprofit to close its doors Monday, laying off 15 full-time employees until it can raise the funds to resume its services.
The 103-year-old nonprofit at 1401 Chapala St. hopes to reopen its doors by November, in time to serve families referred to their services during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.
“This is an acutely distressing situation and an emotional tragedy. We never thought it would come to this. Laying off employees is killing us, and turning families away for the first time in a hundred years” Tom Reed, Unity Shoppe’s executive director, said in a news release.
Unity Shoppe is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting thousands of low-income families, children and elderly in the Santa Barbara area. The nonprofit encourages self-sufficiency and independence by providing education and the necessities of life to families, seniors and persons with disabilities during times of crisis. These necessities are provided, at no charge, and include groceries, clothing, job training and support, and special needs care.
In February, Unity Shoppe received The Citizen of the Year award from the Downtown Santa Barbara organization. Mr. Reed accepted the award and said the recognition was humbling and encouraging.
“Having the support and involvement of our community makes it all work, and we are proud to be an integral part of the Santa Barbara business district,” Mr. Reed said in a statement.
Unfortunately, support and involvement has not been enough to meet recent demands.
The organization’s budget crisis is the result of the Thomas Fire and Montecito mudslides, management said.
The timing of the natural disasters of December 2017 and early 2018 could not have been anticipated and taxed the organization in innumerable ways, the organization said in a press release.
During the disaster, thousands of people were displaced and left without basic necessities. Unity Shoppe stepped up, providing items like blankets, sleeping bags, towels, bedding, socks, sneakers, coats, cookware, and temporary furniture. Donations poured in, but the organization has been unable to raise funds to offset expenses from their fire and mudslide relief efforts.
Those wanting to support Unity Shoppe can donate at https://www.unityshoppe.org/ways-to-give/ and shop at the organization’s Gift Shoppe at 1209 State St.
“For over a century, members of this Community have counted on us for support when they’ve needed it most; we’re incredibly optimistic that now they will answer the call and come to our aid in return,” Mr. Reed said in the news release.