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Nonprofits say they struggle to find caregivers due to low pay rates, hosts fundraising event

Sertoma said it has several positions for people looking to care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Many say the state set the pay too low.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Nonprofit agencies across Tennessee said that they are having a rough time finding staff for frontline caregiver positions. However, they can't pay more to attract workers.

They said that state lawmakers set the pay rate too low for those positions. Some nonprofits, like Sertoma, hold fundraising events to help the nonprofit continue serving communities despite their short staffing. 

"Our average pay rate right now is $11.06," said Lee Freeman, the CEO of Sertoma. "We've got a $1,000 sign-on bonus. We have 174 employees, but we're 73 short. We can't get enough folks to come and work, so we've got severe amounts of overtime trending right now, $1 million in total payroll costs for this year."

At its annual Friendship Dinner event Tuesday night, they hoped to raise money while celebrating Jenny and Randy Boyd for supporting them. It was at the Worlds Fair Park Amphitheater. Jimmy Hyams and Phillip Fulmer made appearances, and Fulmer discussed his life as an athlete, coach and athletic director.

The nonprofit could not host a Friendship Dinner event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.