Charity feels pinch of Madoff scandal - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Charity feels pinch of Madoff scandal

By Chuck Weber email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-The most vulnerable in these tough economic times often rely on charities to get by. The Bernard Madoff scandal is already hurting some groups which help those in need.

One such organization is Alpert Jewish Family and Children Service in West Palm Beach. Each year approximately 5,000 people come to the agency for a wide range of programs, including counseling and a kosher food pantry.

"Usually we would empty it out every couple months," said executive director Neil Newstein, talking about the pantry. "And we're finding we're emptying it out at least once a month, if not more."

Yet just as needs are increasing, the Madoff scandal has led to a $170,000 drop in contributions, according to Newstein. That represents almost a tenth of what the organization raises on its own each year.

Newstein says three foundations heavily invested with Madoff failed to donate about $80,000 as they normally had done. And Newstein estimates his agency has lost another $90,000 in individual gifts, "because we haven't heard from people who we normally hear from," said Newstein.

So far Alpert Jewish Family and Children Service has avoided cutting positions related to the actual delivery of services to people. Newstein says his organization just received a significant gift from Anthony and Vanessa Beyer. That gives Newstein hope future cuts might be unnecessary. "We're hopeful we'll be able to make up the difference, even in a bad economic time, and continue to provide our services unabated," Newstein said.

What does he think of Bernard Madoff? "I was pleased to see him go to jail. I think that's where he belongs, along with anybody else who was involved in it."

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