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Southwest Florida Salvation Army cuts costs

May 2, 2013
Meg Geltner
Meg Geltner / file photo

The Salvation Army of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties has released General Manager Meg Geltner, eliminating her position and several others because of financial issues.

Maj. Tom Louden, area commander, said services provided by the organization have become increasingly challenging to fund over the past five years, which led to a restructuring and the elimination of several positions, including Geltner’s.

“We appreciate the dedicated service of the individuals who held these positions, and as a result of the restructure, we are able to ensure that The Salvation Army remains a strong and sustainable force for good in this community,” Louden said.

Geltner, 60, had been with the organization for nearly 30 years, and was named The News-Press Media Group’s 2011 “Hero of the Year” at its annual People of the Year banquet.

Geltner was recognized for her efforts to help homeless residents as well as setting up and managing the Bob Janes Triage Center, which provides substance abuse and mental health counseling as well as shelter to nonviolent offenders.

“What we do is work with people that are in need every day, so thinking about getting any recognition for doing that is just really encouraging,” Geltner said in her acceptance speech.

Geltner did not respond Thursday to requests for comment on the position elimination.

Sarah Clarke, director of development, was unable to say how many positions were eliminated or what Geltner’s salary was, citing personnel confidentiality, but said the army is committed to the restructuring as “painful as it might have been.”

Last year, the army’s annual red kettle fundraising drive failed to meet its 2012 goal for the first time since Geltner had been there, which she contributed to donor fatigue and seven years of economic challenges.

The red kettle program is the organization’s largest fundraiser, and raised about $600,000, or 84 percent of its $720,000 goal.

The Salvation Army cut operating costs by 7 percent and eliminated 13 jobs last spring.

The army’s 2010 financial report showed a deficit of $26,118, with 90 percent of its $10,952,136 revenue going to programs. Of the more than $10,952,000 in expenses, $5.7 million was for staff compensation. Numbers from 2011 and 2012 will be available sometime this month.

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