Though Mercer County boasts low levels of unemployment there are a number of households who are a single injury, accident, or unexpected expense away from financial crisis. These are the folks that Our Home’s Direct Services & Referral Program serves, the families and individuals whose income falls short of their living expenses due to an unexpected expenditure or illness. People, like Jodi [name changed to protect identity], who need assistance “bridging the gap”:
“Jodi is married and has two children. Her husband has been off work for several months due to an injury. He had surgery and they hope he can return to work in a few weeks. She has been picking up extra hours at work to help them get by during his recovery, still, while awaiting temporary disability insurance, the family depleted all their available funds. They are currently two months behind on rent, they have received a gas shut-off notice, and they have been informed that an electric shut-off notice will arrive next week. Direct Services & Referral provided Jodi with a voucher to cover the gas bill and referrals to Job & Family Services (JFS) and Western Ohio Community Action Program (WOCAP) for assistance with the rest of her needs.”(Direct Services & Referral family support specialist notes)
The Direct Services program provides folks, like Jodi, with information and resources needed to overcome emergency situations, unexpected expenses, or unusually tight budgets. To accomplish this, the program staff offer advice, referral information and, in many cases, financial assistance to those in need. Financial assistance is available for evictions, utility shut-offs, home repairs, emergency shelter, prescriptions, doctor visits, and medical services. Food, personal care items, and baby supplies are also available for folks on a limited income.
People who contact Direct Services for assistance meet with a family support specialist to evaluate the situation and to create a plan to meet their specific needs. To this end, the family support specialist provides folks with vouchers for emergency financial assistance and/or gives them referrals to partner agencies and programs for other forms of support that may be needed to stabilize the situation.
Over the past year, Direct Services staff provided assistance in over 1800 situations and distributed nearly $25,000 in financial support to families in need. In addition to that, program staff coordinated and administrated a Back-To-School Supply Drive that provided essential school supplies to over 300 children across the county, Winter Warmth Day that provided winter coats and accessories to nearly 450 Mercer County residents, and the Mercer County Angel Tree project that allowed 365 Mercer County families provide Christmas gifts for to their children.
These figures not only represent an individual or family who would have suffered without assistance from the Direct Services program but they also demonstrate the meaningful impact that this program has on Mercer County residents in need.
The Direct Services & Referral program is wholly supported through direct donations from individuals, organizations, and churches and private grants; and, we sincerely thank you for your support.