GIVING A HAND UP – Voice Of The Township

Fort Wayne Community Schools will be back in session on August 11. For many people this is an exciting time of year as they take their children shopping for new clothes and new school supplies. For some, however, spending the extra funds for their children to go to school presents a real hardship. Because education is so important in the fight against poverty, we here at the Township take the financial challenges faced by these struggling families very seriously and we try to help out in every way we can. This is the time of year we start ramping up the back-to-school activities in several of our departments.

For households already struggling financially, spending money on books, clothes and other needed school items often means that other expenses can get behind. That’s when clients come to us seeking help. After reviewing a family’s income and expenditures we often find that they are eligible for Township Assistance, maybe for help with a utility bill or shelter payment. By helping in this way we can make sure that the children in the household don’t suffer when ends fail to meet.

In our food pantry, especially in the last week before school starts, families may need help feeding their children before the reduced-lunch program can supply them with a daily meal. It is at this time that the demand on our pantry supply will often go up.

School clothes are another necessity we can help with here at the township. Our Clothing Emporium, a store of donated items, offers children’s clothes in all sizes, and often we have uniform items like polo shirts, khakis and navy skirts and pants. Last year we were able to help buy uniforms with clothing vouchers to K-Mart, but those stores are no longer in the Fort Wayne area. We have a few other stores we work with to help out families who need school clothing items.

Back in 2008 one of our staff members, Sharon Conrad, was doing her personal shopping when she ran across some bargains on school supplies that were just too good to pass up. She bought a large quantity and brought them in to the township office for the investigators to give to clients who needed them. This was such a big help to our families that each year after that during the month of August, Sharon organized an in-house store and distributed school supplies through our Investigations Department.

A couple of years ago, Sharon passed this project on to Ashley Jones and Andrea Hilton. With Sharon as advisor these two investigators have been running our School Supply Store for three years now. It is well-stocked with colorful backpacks, pens, pencils and erasers, hand sanitizers, notebooks, and many other items on the schools’ list of needed supplies they send home with students.

In the last column I mentioned the Recognizing Achievement Scholarships the Township recently presented to students going from high school on to college. These scholarships, the money for which was raised without using taxpayer dollars, helped six students with educational expenses like book bills, needed dormitory items and other college necessities.

In these ways the Wayne Township Trustee Office carries on the tradition of helping needy families with the cost of getting an education–a hand up rather than a hand out.

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Richard A. Stevenson - Wayne Township Trustee

Wayne Township Trustee Rick Stevenson was elected Trustee in November of 2006 and took office in January of 2007. He is very passionate about helping those in need and considers it a privilege to be in a position to be able to help. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer