A resource in times of crisis can come in many shapes and sizes and through any variety of channels or venues. Knowing how to tap into those resources when they are needed can help greatly boost the quality of life in a community — Department of Social Services officials, who deal regularly in providing help in those crisis situations, know that well.
In order to not only make known their own services, but to raise awareness of others who provide crisis-time assistance, Sampson County DSS are urging all those who reach a helping hand to local residents to gather for a Community Resources’ Round Table Discussion next week.
The roundtable talk will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, May 2, at the Sampson County Department of Social Services, at 360 County Complex Road, in the second floor conference room.
Erma Thornton, income maintenance supervisor for the Department of Social Services in Sampson County, said the goal was to get as many agencies, organizations, groups and others together for the meeting as possible. Those agencies and organizations that provide crisis services to Sampson County citizens, and wish to share information about their services, are encouraged to attend the meeting, DSS officials said.
“As a community we should come together and focus on our resources and strengths to help meet our citizen’s needs, which, in turn, will improve the quality of life in our community,” Thornton said.
To use a community’s resources, those resources — anything that can be used to improve the quality of life for citizens, whether it be a person, place, business, church or organization — have to be identified and harnessed to meet the overall population’s needs, which can ultimately be a foundation for community improvement, organizers said.
“You cannot fully understand a community without identifying its resources,” said Thornton. “Once these community resources are identified, we must work together to mobilize these resources to help our citizens. Only by knowing the community’s strengths and resources can we possibly address a community’s needs.”
The need to gather resources and work as a collective unit serving the community has never been greater, with DSS caseloads as high as they’ve ever been.
The county has been working hard to meet state mandates in streamlining services through automation. The move to a paperless system, and all the work shouldered by DSS during the transition, has only been compounded by the consistent rise in caseloads across the board.
DSS director Sarah Bradshaw noted as much during a presentation to Sampson Board of Commissioners earlier this year. In January 2008, there were 14,569 recipients of Medicaid in Sampson. In January 2013, there were 17,462, she said. In the Food and Nutrition Services program, there were 3,770 county cases in January 2008. Five years later, the number stands at 5,745.
“That is a humongous increase,” Bradshaw noted.
The same can be seen in child care. Five years ago, there were 72 children in foster care, where there is now around 120.
While most individuals equate assistance as government-administered programs, which are necessary and can meet many of the needs of residents, they cannot meet all of the needs. That is where the reason for the meeting comes in — combining forces as part of a larger effort.
DSS officials are urging those who provide crisis services, make referrals for crisis services or have an interest in learning about all such services available to Sampson County citizens to come out to the May 2 meeting. Working together as a unified group can help to further extend crisis services and benefit the entire community in the process.
“It will take a broad range of community groups and individuals to identify resources that may not be apparent or known to others,” said Thornton. “Improvement efforts can be more effective and longer-lasting, when a community dedicates its resources.”
If you or any member of your agency/organization plans on attending the meeting, or would like more information, call Thornton at 910-592-7131 ext. 3214.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.