On October 25th of this year, the Wayne Township Trustee Office (WTTO) hosted the 5th annual Community Partnership Summit at the League for the Blind and Disabled. There were over twenty service organizations represented and several members of the clergy were also invited to attend. The summit meeting was designed as a roundtable discussion for all of the service providers during the winter heating season. So often one agency offered a program and the other agencies weren’t aware of the eligibility criterion or the target group or other program specifics. Our summit meeting put the agencies face to face to share accurate information. This helped us to make appropriate referrals and cut down on the “run around” that many of our clients experience when seeking services. The township shared program information and discussed the nearly 20% decline in the amount of tax dollars spent for 2004 and also the over 50% decline in the amount of utilities since 2003. We also provided eligibility criterion for township assistance with shelter, utilities, medication and food. Clients are required to verify the amount of income in the household thirty days prior to their application. They are also required to provide verification of how the income was exhausted by providing paid bill receipts. After applicants have exhausted their income on their basic necessities, and if there is a need, the township provides assistance.
The LIHEAP or low-income energy assistance program offered at Community Action of Northeast Indiana (423-3546) was also discussed. This program provides assistance with AEP and Nipsco during the winter heating season. One-time payments are made for each utility and the program also uses a moratorium to guard against those utility services being disconnected from December 1st to March the 15th. Clients must be at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines to qualify for this program.
The Salvation Army (744-2311) also has utility assistance programs available. Catholic Charities (422-5625) partners with Nipsco each year to provide the gift of warmth program.
The Community Partnership Summit showcased these programs and others services provided. Reverend Alyn Biddle also gave a stirring presentation that challenged local clergy to create benevolent programs in their churches if none existed.
The summit provides local agencies with the necessary face-to-face contact that real community partners need. At Wayne Township, we believe in our role as a facilitator, as well as a service provider. It is just another way for us to be an effective advocate for the poor and a good steward of the taxpayers’ resources.
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