Few people have done as much to pull Spokane residents out of poverty as Larry Stuckart, who will step down as executive director of SNAP next month after 20 years at the helm of the private, nonprofit social services organization.
Effective May 31, Stuckart, 61, will become the agency’s energy program administrator, a position now held by Margaret Belote, who is retiring. SNAP deputy director Julie Honekamp will assume the executive director position June 1.
Stuckart first worked for the organization founded by Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul in 1972 as a student intern at the East Side Neighborhood Center. In 1981, he was named assistant director of the Neighborhood Center programs. He was named executive director of the agency that became known as Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs in 1991.
In the early years, Stuckart recalled, the organization had about nine employees and administered a Community Services Administration grant of about $125,000.
SNAP’s accounting was kept in a seven-column ledger, Stuckart said. “But we only needed four of the seven columns because we only had four funding sources.”
Today, SNAP employs about 150 people, down from 180 last year, and administers an annual budget of about $24.7 million. Last year, SNAP provided social services to more than 47,000 people.
“To be an effective program,” Stuckart said, “you have to get the right people coming through the door – seniors, the disabled and the working poor – because we can’t afford to serve everyone who is eligible.”
The job will only be made more difficult by the current budget climate in Congress, he said.
“I believe in tough love when it’s warranted,” Stuckart said. “But a lot of people can put their lives back together if you just give them a hand.”
He cited microfinancing of small businesses through SNAP Financial Access as an initiative under his watch that has made a significant improvement in the community.
“I’m very proud of our direct effect on people’s lives,” Stuckart said.