The Open Door Shelter is exploring cutbacks due to insufficient funds and higher-than-ever demand for assistance.

Potential cuts include eliminating breakfast, meal rationing and layoffs. The board is exploring ways to avoid turning away those in need as winter approaches.

While various economic reports may indicate the economy is recovering, the reality at the shelter is that demand for services continues to be at an all-time high, and private donations have dropped significantly from just a few years ago.

Funding from the federal government and the state has not increased, and has not kept pace with the demand for meals, pantry services or shelter.

During the past two years, while the shelter has cut most non-essential programs and expenses, it has been a struggle to operate without tapping into reserve funds and lines of credit. In the absence of an influx of donations, it is going to be forced to make more drastic cuts in services, reducing both food and shelter accommodations.

While the shelter has struggled, through a generous grant, it has successfully launched the Hope Works job program, which includes retraining and deployment of out-of-work shelter clients. Through this job program clients learn essential job skills and are put to work cleaning and beautifying the local Norwalk community. After demonstrating success across various performance measures, these workers will receive job counseling and referrals to paying jobs at local businesses.

The "Hope Works" program is part of the Open Door Shelter commitment to facilitating independence, not just providing food and shelter. This program is an important aspect of helping people to transition from needing help during tough times, to be employed, living on their own, raising families, paying taxes and contributing to back to the community.

Even as the shelter employees share enthusiasm about the Hope Works program, major budget deficits, lack of federal, state or grant funding, and a drastic decline in private donations are of grave concern. The shelter needs help in the form of unrestricted cash donations. More than 90 cents of every dollar donated to the shelter goes directly to assistance in the form of food, shelter or services. The shelter has already begun making cuts in staffing, reducing meals and cutting back on pantry support and the amount of food we serve. Without additional funding, it may be forced to turn people away from the shelter during the cold, harsh winter months.

To donate visit opendoorshelter.org or contact Carole Antonetz at 203-866-1057.