Information received from a recent public records request shows a financial setback of over $100,000 for Hearts of Hope — annual funding the local non-profit had received for years from the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to aid in its advocacy for Acadiana’s victims of sexual assault and rape.
Hearts of Hope was notified of the funding cut earlier this month by our new District Attorney Keith Stutes. We first reported this story last week (read it in full here), but at the time, were unable to pinpoint just how much the Lafayette-based nonprofit’s annual budget had been impacted by the recent decision. Stutes credits his decision to end the DA's annual allocation — money Hearts of Hope had received for years under former DA Mike Harson — to a state statute forbidding the donation of public funds (again, we’ll refer you to our first story on this issue to get his explanation in its entirety).
During our initial reporting on the funding loss, we were unable to track down the actual dollar amount received in recent years by Hearts of Hope from the DA's Office. So we submitted a public records request earlier in the week asking the DA’s office for an exact dollar figure the group had received in the past, as well as the amount it was hoping to receive this year.
Here’s Stutes’ response to our records request:
_The records reflect that on December 7, 2013, then District Attorney Michael Harson ended the appointments of [Hearts] of Hope employees. However, the records also reflect that Michael Harson paid Hearts of Hope $93,614.82 thereafter in 2014.
Upon my assuming the position of District Attorney, January 12, 2015, Hearts of Hope made a request for financial support to cover salaries of $117,710.80 for the year 2015._
That $117,710.80 allocation won't be happening. Hearts of Hope, however, isn’t dwelling on the bad news, but instead has turned its focus on a slate of fundraisers set for the coming months. And without the safety net provided by the DA’s annual allocation, these fundraisers are all the more important, and will ultimately determine the non-profit’s foreseeable future.
Here's what they've got planned so far:
July 18 — Fundraising event at Acadian Village that will benefit Hearts of Hope, the DesOrmeaux Foundation and Faith House. Details are still in the making.
July 25 — Hope Floats Charity Raffle.
October — Hearts of Hope will bring back its "Walk a Mile in High-Heels" fundraiser at a date TBD in October.
Nov. 21 — Run Live Oak. An annual 5k/10k in which participants can run or walk to raise funds for Hearts of Hope.
Dec. 2-3 — Festival of Trees.