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Community assistance requests up 25-35 percent from 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, November 29, 2013 9:15 PM

BY STEPHANIE GROVES

Staff Writer

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DELPHOS — With October’s unemployment statistics — Allen County reporting 7.7 percent, Van Wert at 6.7 percent and Putnam tallying 5.9 percent — the numbers are a good indicator of the economic climate families and individuals struggle in each day. More and more are grappling with overwhelming financial strains and turn to community outreach programs for assistance.

In Delphos, both the Interfaith Thrift Store’s Social Service’s Pantry and St. Vincent dePaul Society have seen a huge increase in families requesting food and financial assistance.

 

Social Services Executive Director Becky Strayer said they have helped more than 1,000 clients, including single mothers, families and individuals. Strayer said before the holidays and with the added heating bills, it is normal to see the needs of the community increase. This year, the closure of Reser’s has also added to people’s financial woes.

 

“This month, we have helped 72 families with food, rent, and utilities,” Strayer added. “At this time last year, we worked with 54 families needing assistance. That’s up close to 35 percent,” Strayer affirmed.

St. Vincent dePaul Society Treasurer Dennis Hickey said in the past year they have helped 500 families.

“We can help them once every two months with rent, utilities and prescriptions up to $150,” Hickey explained. “Currently, we are seeing a spike of 20 to 25 percent in calls for assistance.”

Hickey said they have assisted 75 families in the past month and attributes the increase to loss of jobs, cutting of hours — some are down to 30 hours per week — at their place of employment and higher utility bills.

“There’s just not enough out there to help them take care of their financial obligations,” Hickey said with empathy.

He said it is very unfortunate that they see (assist) the same people year after year.

“We are seeing their children and grandchildren — second and third generations — coming to us for help,” Hickey explained.

During fiscal year 2012, Social Services provided $84,000 in financial assistance to families for living expenses.

“Just because they make a whole lot of money doesn’t mean they can manage their money or have enough of it to cover expenses,” Strayer said. “Maybe these people have court fees, hospital bills or some kind of unexpected bills.”

Last year, the St. Vincent dePaul Society collaborated with the folks managing the Community Christmas Project and prepared 109 food boxes, which were distributed to people in need in the Delphos Public School District.

Strayer said this year, Social Services is working with Community Unity Free Supper’s On Us to offer their clients free financial seminars sponsored by local financial institutions. She said the tentative plan is to offer six seminars beginning on Jan. 2. The focus is to better equip people to live in this challenging economical climate and give them the tools to succeed.

“We want to be more than a Band-Aid,” she spoke passionately. “We want to be the stitches.”

She said a few years ago, there was a homeless man who took a Financial Literacy class and exceeded all expectations.

“After a year, he bought a small Certificate of Deposit and opened a checking account,” Strayer said with enthusiasm.

Strayer said she welcomes talking with anybody who may need assistance. People can call, get information and schedule an appointment to come in.

“We can help people by going on line with them and filling out all of the information to get signed up for services through the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS),” Strayer said.

Likewise, Hickey said St. Vincent dePaul Society will take people’s information after they call, check their eligibility and make arrangements for them to pick up whatever they need.

“That’s our mission and helping them makes it worthwhile,” Hickey said proudly.

Each organization appreciates any donations: canned and boxed food items, paper products and monetary gifts.

“All donations are greatly appreciated,” Strayer said. “We have a wish list of the most given away and requested foods.”

“We usually run out of peanut butter and jelly and pasta,” Hickey added. “Paper goods, toilet paper and paper towels also usually run short.”

Hickey said that donations can be dropped of at Hickey Morris Insurance Agency located at 452 E. Second St.

For more information about Interfaith Thrift Store’s Social Service’s Pantry, call Strayer at 419-692-2942. For the St. Vincent dePaul Society, call the Ministry Center at 419-695-4050.

Last Updated on Friday, November 29, 2013 9:17 PM
 

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