by Ron Jackson, Staff Reporter •
Published: November 27, 2009
Jacquelyn Parks lives somewhere between hope and despair.
As the executive director of the Metropolitan Better Living Center, Parks freely accepts her fate in an industry where getting rich is as likely as winning the lottery. She stresses every day over how to meet the next payroll or keep the electricity on with insufficient state and federal revenue streams.
Over the past three years the center has finished a combined $220,000 short of meeting obligation without grants, the mercy of county commissioners and charitable donations. Now a shrinking state budget threatens to deal Parks — and those in her position — another blow.
Personally, Parks can handle the pressure. She learned long ago that such drama comes with the territory. What bothers her most is that she’s not alone. Standing by her side are 104 clients and their families who depend on her to keep the center open.
The mere thought brings Parks to tears.
“I think it’s gonna be OK, but it’s like being on a cliff,” said Parks, who operates the Metropolitan Better Living Center in the shadow of the Capitol. “I know this: We can’t lose another $80,000 like we did last year.”
Metropolitan is on pace to finish $100,000 short of the money needed this year, Parks said. She said the center actually ran out of money in April, but has remained open thanks to an emergency bank loan and charitable donations.