When Telesia Koen was pregnant, scared and didn't know who else to turn to, it was Modesto Airport Neighbors United that gave her the help she needed.
She'll have to go elsewhere now.
After 15 years of providing services to families in one of the city's most downtrodden areas, the neighborhood group has closed its doors.
The nonprofit organization gave neighborhood residents a helping hand when they needed it. It provided everything from bus vouchers and clothing to GED and healthy pregnancy classes.
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"They did a lot of good for a lot of people," said Koen, who attended a weekly pregnancy support group at the group's South Santa Cruz Avenue office.
"They'll help you with what they can, and if they can't help you, they'll find somebody who can."
Coordinator Mary Lynn Lebow said the organization was felled by a series of financial blows and poor oversight. The group has a staff of four and an annual budget of about $70,000, mostly from grants and county contracts.
When funding from a county contract arrived later than usual this year, there was no cash reserve to keep the group afloat, Lebow said.
The group's board of directors stopped meeting regularly about two years ago, Lebow said. Staff members had little financial know-how.
Lebow said she is partly to blame because she accidentally let an insurance policy lapse and the group didn't have enough money on hand to buy a new one. The organization owes money to the IRS and has racked up about $2,000 in unpaid bills, Lebow said.
Modesto Airport Neighbors United also lost some momentum after its founders, Frank and Marcy Wood, died a year ago, Lebow said.
Lebow closed the group's office in late September. Now she and other staff members are boxing up the toys that neighborhood children once played with and sending bags of donated clothes to the Modesto Gospel Mission.
On Wednesday, tears came to Lebow's eyes as she described the organization's history.
A few neighborhood residents started the group in 1994 with a mission to create a happy, healthy and safe airport district.
First housed inside Orville Wright Elementary School, the nonprofit group moved to its own building at 205 S. Santa Cruz Ave. in 2000. Workers from the organization went door to door, asking residents what they needed.
The group also built relationships on a larger level, working closely with city and county officials on neighborhood improvements such as sidewalks and streetlights.
Along the way, the group created a sense of community ownership, said Doreen Pennington, a staff member.
"People realized that the community is theirs and that it's our community's business to make sure everything is cleaned up and that our kids are safe," Pennington said.
Now Modesto Airport Neighbors United is working with other nonprofit groups, such as the Lions Club, to see how its work might continue. The group still will help with the Gallo Glass Co.'s annual Christmas charity drive, which donates gifts and dinners to 48 neighborhood families.
Lebow and the three other women who work for the group live in the neighborhood. People who need help still come looking for her and her co-workers, knocking on their doors and calling their cell phones.
"Just because we may not have physical location doesn't mean that the work we want to do over here will stop," Lebow said.
Telesia Koen said she still turns to caseworker Anita McKinley for help. Koen has referred many friends to Modesto Airport Neighbors United because of its welcoming atmosphere, she said.
"The people over here, it's hard for them to ask for help," Koen said. "A lot of people, they judge you, especially when they hear you live in the airport district. (Modesto Airport Neighbors United) doesn't judge you. "