Next week the City Council will evaluate all the worthy projects in Malibu to decide which ones will be funded and at what level. It is sad that, because of budget constraints, good projects that do really good things must compete for a relatively small amount of money. And no one likes to beg, especially when they are begging for the opportunity to keep volunteering their time for a program that benefits the entire community. In the case of the Labor Exchange, the funding has diminished from $35,000 to the present level of $9,000 — a slow death spiral for the project.
The city of Malibu initiated the Labor Exchange program in order to alleviate the problems created when men stand on street corners waiting for work. However, I feel it is inherently wrong for a volunteer group to be expected not only to administer but also to fund a program that the city itself originated. The city of Carlsbad spends $86,000 of its general funds to support its Day Worker Center and the city of Brea, $30,000.
Because our funds have been cut so drastically, the Malibu Labor Exchange has cut back from two employees to one, with facilities deteriorating, volunteers exhausted and its donors overtaxed. Each year our volunteers give fund-raising events to keep the project afloat. However, without a consistent level of funding from the city of at least $15,000 per year, there is no possibility that the Labor Exchange will be able to continue its services to both those who seek workers and those seeking work.
Most people think of the MCLE as an organized place where they can hire day workers. However, few in Malibu realize that the Labor Exchange is the city’s only social service for the poor, offering a safe, secure, sanitary site for day workers as well as volunteer tutoring, counseling, and emergency medical care. And fewer still know that the exchange does jobs no one else will do such as working with Wild Life Rescue to dispose of dead sea animals. As volunteer projects, the Labor Exchange workers planted and now care for the beautiful City Hall Rose Garden and have helped clean City drains. Recently, the city sought the exchange’s aid when an indigent man was found dead from exposure. The exchange not only made funeral arrangements but raised private funds to send the decedent’s remains home to his native land.
If you believe that this project merits consistent financial support from the city, please let your feelings known by contacting members of the City Council either by fax, 310.456.3356, or phone city hall to leave a message 310.456.2489 for Harry Barovsky ext. 334, Tom Hasse, ext. 332, Joan House, ext. 333, Walt Keller, ext. 331, Carolyn Van Horn, ext. 330 — or better yet, speak at the May 10 City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Hughes Research.
Mona Loo, president
Malibu Community Labor Exchange, Inc.
California Nonprofit Corporation, 501c3 charity