Charity suffers setback from robbery

BROWNSVILLE — Even though the Good Neighbor Settlement House successfully finished serving its annual Thanksgiving Day meal to the needy, the charity is still reeling from a recent burglary.

“In the last two weeks we had someone use a crowbar to open up the freezer and steal meat out of it,” interim volunteer director Jack White said. “We probably have somewhere in the vicinity of spending a couple thousand dollars trying to secure and fix the freezer door.”

The $2,000 fix is quite the sum for the charity that was founded back in 1953.

The robber damaged a heating strip in the door that regulates temperature in the freezer.

“When you’re operating with such limited resources, just an impact of $2,000 on something you have to fix immediately is hard,” White said.

The Good Neighbor Settlement House, located at 1254 E. Tyler St., is a nonprofit multi-service agency in Brownsville that serves needy men, women and children by providing the basic necessities needed in life, like food, clothing, showers and hot meals.

Because of a small staff and needed upgrades at the facility, White said it can be difficult to keep an eye on everything because of the sheer number of people who are in and out of the facility each day, including volunteers.

“We’ve had challenges with people getting into the walk-in freezer and the walk-in refrigerator,” White said.

During the past year, White said he thought Good Neighbor had finally remedied those problems.

“We thought we had it fixed but we didn’t, so we’re back into several thousands of dollars in repairing the freezer door,” he said.

Not only that, the freezer burglary comes at a time when Good Neighbor Settlement House is seeing fewer donations.

“It comes at a delicate time when contributions have dropped off to Good Neighbor, so we’re challenged to make our basic expenses plus we have others that come with not only the holiday but the break-in, too,” White said.

And with Thanksgiving being over and the holiday season jumping into gear, ending with Christmas, like holiday deals in January, volunteerism and financial donations tend to diminish.

“Everybody wants to be there for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but then after that the concept of volunteerism really drops off,” White said. “Again, we couldn’t do anything without the volunteer corps.”