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Bill Capo / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- They sing and pray, chat and play in the senior center at Kingsley House. Some clients say they would be stuck at home, cut off from life otherwise.

'We laugh together, we play together, we go on trips together, we do so many activities,' said Lucy Reed, laughing.

'I enjoy coming here every day. I just wish it would be open more,' said Eddie Brumfield.

But 10 percent of the Kingsley House budget comes from United Way. This year United Way's annual campaign missed the $14 million goal when it ended Friday.

'The past couple of years with the economy have been really challenging, so it has always come down to the wire,' said United Way Chief Operating Officer Michael Williamson. 'This year seems to be unique because the gap is so significant, looking at anywhere form $300,000 to possibly $500,000 short.'

'Without the United Way support, we would have a very difficult time trying to meet the needs of the residents that we serve,' worried Kingsley House Chief Executive Officer Keith Liederman.

And that's the big fear: a $500,000 shortfall at United Way may be spread across the 98-member agencies who serve 90,000 people in seven parishes.

'So what do you cut, do you cut vulnerable kids?' said Liederman. 'Do you cut vulnerable seniors, and medically fragile adults? Do you cut vulnerable families? For us, there are no alternatives that make sense.'

'It is hard to sleep when you know on the other end there's programs that need those resources to serve seniors and children, and those in need,' said Williamson.

They're so concerned that United Way has extended their campaign for another week, to this Friday. And for those who wonder whether they can make a difference, United Way says even one dollar will help.

And at the Kingsley House, the clients say they don't want to let these gates stay locked.

'If anything would happen to this place, the people had to close down, it would hurt so many people,' said Brumfield.

'Whatever it takes for them to raise money, please raise some money, so we can have something to do, and somewhere to go,' said Reed.

You can reach United Way at 822-5540, or visit their website at www.unitedwaysela.org.

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