Agencies seeking money for needy Nonprofits must apply by Monday to receive a share of $17,910

December 31, 1997|By James M. Coram and Anne Haddad | James M. Coram and Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Carroll County human service agencies have until Monday to apply for $17,910 in federal funds to help needy residents pay for food, shelter and utility bills.

Two agencies -- Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc., a nonprofit, umbrella charity that provides food, money and other services to the needy, and Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to homebound residents -- have asked for assistance.

"Hopefully, others are going to benefit also," said Jolene Sullivan, director of the county's Department of Citizen Services.

Carroll County Food Sunday, which collects and distributes food to the hungry, plans to apply, said Anna Rollins, board chairwoman.

The county received the money from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program of Alexandria, Va. The program is governed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Local nonprofit agencies that provide emergency services to needy county residents may apply for the grant money.

The Carroll County Circle of Caring -- made up of representatives from social services agencies and religious organizations -- will decide how to distribute the funds after reviewing the applications.

In the past, Human Services Programs has received the largest portion of the grant. The charity would use the dollars again to fill gaps in services, said Sylvia Canon, the executive director.

Food Sunday will apply for $1,716 to buy milk for senior citizen clients, Rollins said. Food Sunday doesn't have enough money to give milk to everyone -- only to families with children under 16.

"We offer cereal to families, and we have seniors who are refusing the cereal because they don't have milk to cook it in or pour on top of it," Rollins said. "Seniors also have calcium needs, and they have a desire to have milk to drink and cook with."

Last year, Circle divided $15,815 in federal money among Human Services Programs, Meals on Wheels and Carroll Food Sunday. The money went to help 39 people make rent and mortgage payments averaging $178 and assist 73 others with utility bills averaging $101.

Carroll Food Sunday received $1,350 and used it to put together a collection of staples for families who came in for the first time. Many were often without basic foods such as peanut butter, jelly, flour or pancake mix, Rollins said.

Under terms of the federal homeless assistance act of 1987, the grants are to be used to "supplement and extend efforts to provide shelter, food and supportive services" for the homeless and those in jeopardy of becoming homeless.

"It's not a whole lot of money, but it's critical," Sullivan said. "Any little bit of assistance to help keep [county residents] independent is critical."

People needing assistance should begin receiving it toward the end of January, Sullivan said.

"January through March are very critical months," she said. "They come directly after the holidays, and the bills are very, very high."

Without assistance, residents might have to choose between buying food or paying rent, she said.

Utility bills especially can be a problem, since oil heating bills run as high as $300 to $400 a month in frigid weather, she said. If the 73 people who received assistance last year had to pay those utility bills, "they might not have had enough for food and other necessities," Sullivan said.

Canon said the federal money supplements local emergency assistance for housing, such as paying security deposits, rent or mortgages; and it adds to the fuel assistance clients receive from the Fuel Fund of Central Maryland plus a credit match from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

In most of those cases, the clients also contribute money, Canon said.

"It works out to be just about half of it on an average," she said.

Some smaller social service groups, such as Northeast Social Action Program, an ecumenical Christian organization that assists the needy in northeast Carroll and northwest Baltimore counties, will not apply for money, said Gloria Bair, a 10-year member who also works at Human Services Programs (HSP).

The program helps clients avoid eviction, buy medicine, maintain utility service and get food and clothes.

"We think HSP's the logical place to have it," Bair said. "It's where we all send clients first. They're a clearinghouse. If a client needs additional funding, they can come to us, but we always ask them to go to HSP first. It avoids duplication."

Pub Date: 12/31/97

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