Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

July 22, 2011

Community Relief Fund aids many in times of need

Special to the Daily Times

GLASGOW — More than 4,100 people were helped in a special place over the last 12 months.

Have you ever needed help? Have you ever given help? Both? Many of us have. I am convinced people who know they need help are often very generous people. Once we learn we need other people in our lives we are more willing to be present for others. A little sharing can spread out a long way.

One place where people often find help is the Community Relief Fund. Its offices are at 123 East Washington in Glasgow. Each year many agencies and individuals support people through the work of CRF. The Salvation Army is a partner in this mission. Both the city of Glasgow and the Barren County Fiscal Court allocate funds, which are distributed through CRF. Civic clubs and businesses contribute. You may have helped through the United Fund. Many gave food and cash through the “To The Brim” summer food drive. Perhaps your church collected funds and specific items.

Here’s some good news. Vouchers for food were given 659 times during the past year. Actual food (in-kind donations) was given to more than 2,600 people.

You may wonder; how is a decision made to help? There is an application process. All requests are screened. People need help in many ways. Housing problems, utilities, transportation, school needs for children, help with finding a job, clothing and medical are some of the needs. CRF finds ways for children to go to summer camp. You will find CRF serving food and coffee when there’s a fire or other emergency. How and where to help can be a hard decision. Sometimes people are turned away.

CRF began its essential work in 1988. In 33 years it has done a lot of good. On Monday, July 18, the board met. There are 17 members. Some years are easier to manage than others. Freddie Norris is chair of the board of directors. Sue Haynes directs its activities. The board meets at least quarterly. I have been on a little over a year. One of the surprising things I’ve learned is that people who come for assistance complete satisfaction questionnaires. Board members read the cards at each meeting. More than 96 percent are positive. A financial audit is made each year. Members work hard to improve the mission.

Here’s some challenging news. This year the federal emergency assistance for food, utilities and shelter has not been given. Last year families received $20,000 of help from this fund. This year more people are asking for help.

Another challenge. Last year CRF helped families with children going back to school. After evaluating who most needed aid, vouchers of $100 for older youth and $75 for children going to elementary school were provided. The money was used for both school supplies and clothing. But, this year the board had to vote to reduce the amounts to $75 for older youth and $50 for elementary age children. I know it’s less help than last year but you may know someone who needs a hand. Tell them applications are being accepted from July 25 through Aug. 4. It’s a while off, but applications for help from the Christmas Angel Tree program will be taken from Sept. 19 through Nov. 10.

We are optimistic and have hope that people who truly need help will find it at CRF. We rely on your kindness. This is a local outreach where you can help your closest neighbor.

In about a month another “To The Brim” campaign will begin. Please give food (cash is always welcome). Over the next two weeks consider in-kind gifts of school supplies.

Decades of experience confirms for me that when a community knows people need help and there is a way to responsibly assist them; the two will come together.

On Sunday some of you will hear about a woman who took a little yeast and mixed it with flour until the yeast spread a long way out and all of it was leavened. A small amount of yeast grew into a lot of bread. That parable continues to inspire me. Please find a way to let it inspire you with help for your Community Relief Fund.

Oliver Hofmann is a regular contributer to the Daily Times’ Religion page. He is also a member of the Community Relief Fund board.