WILMINGTON — A public hearing Wednesday for organizations applying for Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) funds spurred a wider discussion concerning the poor and homeless around us.
The director of the ExChange, Pastor Angela France, said a lot of the people they help “have burned so many bridges” they need the folks in organizations like those seeking EFSP dollars “to come alongside of them.”
Transportation is an issue with many of the people they see, said France.
One of the bigger things she said she’s learned by working with the unfortunate and those in need is to ask ‘What happened to you?’ and not ‘What’s wrong with you?’
As an outreach ministry of the Blanchester Nazarene Church, the ExChange also tries to help people going through difficult times “on a deeper level,” France said.
Amanda Widmeyer, community outreach coordinator for the Hope Emergency Program, attended the EFSP hearing. The Hope Emergency Program provides food and clothing to residents of Brown, Adams, Clinton and Highland Counties.
One spot they serve is in the Clarksville area where there is a homeless encampment with tents and campers, she said.
“So those are ‘frequent fliers’ that we see,” said Widmeyer.
In addition, Hope Emergency clients include a lot of people taking care of their grandchildren because of the drug epidemic, she said. Other clients are not making enough income — even with a two-person household — in order to be able to afford things, she said.
And there are also clients who make more wages than the amount permitted in order to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits, but who nonetheless need assistance.
Widmeyer noted that two years ago she and her husband lost their house and everything they owned due to damaging straight-line winds.
“We’re still, two years later, even though we both work, still getting back to normal,” she said. “A lot of these situations, it just takes one thing — one illness, one tragedy that affects a family.
“And so, if you can imagine a family who’s down on their luck and they’re not working or they’ve been incarcerated or they’re in rehab, it’s even harder for them to gain footing,” added Widmeyer.
The four area organizations applying for EFSP funds are the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (St. Columbkille Conference) requesting $7,000; the Clinton County Services for the Homeless requesting $7,933; the ExChange requesting $5,000; and the Hope Emergency Program requesting $5,000.
The total amount of the requests is $24,933. The figure available is $21,156.
Clinton County Commissioners President Brenda K. Woods told the organizations’ representatives the commissioners will decide on the allocations in the near future and let them know.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.