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News State / Region County assistance groups collaborate to prepare for winter

Pictured are DSS employees donating to CareNet (L-R) Gwen Taylor, Marie McClure, Mark Whitman, Vanessa Bailey, executive director of CareNet; Sheila Conley, and Jane Kimsey, DSS director. Macon County’s Department of Social Services donated $1,000 to Bailey and CareNet. Photo by Chad SimonsThe North Carolina Social Services Association (NCSSA), organized in 1967 and incorporated in 1969, is the only statewide professional organization representing the interest and concerns of Social Services employees in North Carolina.

In addition to working to develop the professional growth of members and to regulate policy, NCSSA members raise in excess of $50,000 each year that is devoted to community service projects in nearly all 100 counties across the state. These funds provide life-sustaining services and supplies to individuals who have fallen through the cracks of the human services system and/or provide funding for training not otherwise offered through county budgets.

Macon County DSS employees who are NCSSA members have helped families in the past with a Thanksgiving food box. This year Macon County NCSSA members voted to give a donation of $1,000 to CareNet for food distribution to those in need. Proceeds come from employee purchases of vending machine snacks and beverages located in the Macon County Human Services building.

The Macon County Care Network, also known as CareNet, is a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation, established in 1988, by churches in Macon County. CareNet is headquartered in Franklin, N.C.

CareNet is a non-denominational ministry, which serves as a central location to provide relief for those in crisis. CareNet provides food and limited financial assistance with other necessities, such as prescriptions, utilities, fuel, and rent on an emergency basis.

CareNet is supported by churches, donations, grants, and the CareNet thrift store. All donations are used to assist Macon County residents exclusively.

After making the donation, Macon County Social Service employees, local assistance agencies, and support groups came together to plan for the upcoming winter. The groups have experienced substantial budget cuts this past year and more cuts are anticipated in the future. These budget reductions will affect their ability to provide sufficient funding for children, families, and disabled adults and seniors in need.

In response, Macon County’s assistance agencies met in late September to collaborate and prepare for the winter months, a period that will apply even more pressure to those with less. The group, coordinated by Macon County’s Social Services Director Jane Kimsey, met for a second time on Tuesday to supplant and further collaborate with other assistance agencies in the county.

These agencies, such as Macon County’s Employment Security Commission, Caring Hands, CareNet, Macon County’s Public Housing Authority, and local church organizations are coming together to develop a comprehensive plan to provide assistance for Maconians who will need it this winter.

“We have to collaborate and network to be as efficient as possible,” said Kimsey. “Organizations and groups who are not reaching out and collaborating with us will get slammed this winter because of their lack of coordination. We have to work together if we are going to meet the needs of people in this community,” she said.

Community leaders discussed ideas and expressed their opinions on how to better prepare their groups to meet the needs of the community this winter. The organizations also discussed certain assistance programs available to those who need help, such as the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, Crisis Intervention Program, HEMC program, and Emergency Assistance Program. These programs will become even more crucial as Duke Power plans to increase utility rates in the immediate future.

The funding levels for the listed programs are daunting. LIEAP went from 487,145 in 2010-2011 to $46,139 in 2012-2012. Other programs, such as the CIP, were cut nearly $30,000 in fiscal year 2011-12. These numbers are telling and demonstrate why it is so important for community assistance agencies to collaborate. Local assistance groups in Macon County agreed to meet on a monthly basis for the remainder of the year.





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published: 10/18/2013
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