Groton - Until this year, Malta Ministries relied mostly on volunteerism, grants and private donations to fund their work with the needy and homeless of southeastern Connecticut.
Dwindling revenues and rising costs, however, have changed things for the nonprofit charitable organization that operates at the Pleasant Valley Community of Prayer and Praise in Groton.
They are seeking more public support and will hold a charitable auction Saturday in an effort to boost revenues.
"Our finances have been stretched to the limit this year," said Malta President Dick Krom, an elder at Pleasant Valley. "It is a sign of the times, yet our costs and the number of needy people continues to rise."
Krom said Malta typically holds one fundraiser a year, the Samaritan Swim, which takes place on New Year's Day each year in the waters off Eastern Point Beach. He said businesses have responded generously to the idea of an auction by donating gift cards and such things as chartered fishing trips, theater tickets and steam train rides.
Money collected at the auction supports programs that include the group's so-called street ministries. Teams of Malta volunteers go out several times a week to take food, clothing and toiletries to the homeless and needy in Groton, New London and Norwich. Volunteers meet at designated areas allowing recipients a sense of dignity and pride, Krom said.
Krom said the people who are getting help range from women who have fled abusive situations to the mentally ill without a place to go.
In addition, Malta owns a four-unit apartment building in Groton, the Malta Transitional Living Center, which houses up to a dozen single men looking to get back on their feet. Malta covers the mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities while residents are expected to find employment and pay rent.
Krom said it was a calling 12 years ago that led him to start the organization. There are now more than 50 volunteers from various churches and organizations in the area working for the same cause.
"There's a real need," Krom said. "I can tell you that we get phone calls every day for people looking for help with housing."