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Assistance available for struggling families

Concerned citizens – 85 in total – packed into the CailCommunity Center June 25 to gain information about how to find employment is this sluggish economy.

The crowd received helpful guidance and Cathy Kight, the executive director of the

Screven County United Way
, who sponsored the awareness meeting, said people continue to telephone her office for more knowledge.

Our Phone has been quite busy this morning with folks wanting more information,” Kight said Monday.

Agency representatives who informed those in attendance of what is available included the CSRA-CentralSavannah RiverAreaRegionalDevelopmentCenter, Community Action, Georgia Department of Labor, ScrevenCountyOneStopCareerCenter, St. Camillus Health Clinic, Grace Bible Baptist Church Food Pantry, and the Screven-Jenkins Regional Library System.

“We wanted to come up with some kind of meeting to help,” Kight told those in the center. “This is our way to give back to you. We wanted you to be able to put a face with the agencies. We wanted you to know who these people are.”

Barbara Rushing, of the Department of Labor, said individuals at her office can help people in finding a job. The department also has computer access and veteran assistance.

“Anything we can do make your job search easier, just ask,” Rushing said.

The department Web site is http://www.dol.state.ga.us.

In the month of May, ScrevenCounty had 413 unemployment insurance claims. In April, the claims were 457. In comparison, the claims for May 2008 were 177.

Information booths for the free health clinic, library, Ogeechee Technical College, Inspirations Counseling Program, Screven County Hospital Outreach, Screven County Health Department, Crisis Fund, Senior Companion Program, Right from the Start Medicaid and the Department of Juvenile Justice.

I also want to thank our
United Way
agencies and our local agencies for the information that they provided,” Kight said.

Latasha Hawkins, of the One Stop at
111 North Main Street
in Sylvania, said her office can assist dislocated workers, job searches, and support services. Hawkins said the agency can help people enroll at area technical colleges for job-skills training.

Kathryn Youles, assistant director of the Screven-Jenkins Regional Library System, said a lot of resources are available at the library at the corner of

Community Drive
and
W.T. Sharp Drive
in Sylvania.

Twenty-one computers that can access to on-line employment application and related programs are offered for use by residents.

Youles said a resume and cover letter preparation workshop has been scheduled at the library for July 22.

St. Camillus Health Clinic is free for those who are without medical insurance, said Father Lou Lussier of Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church.

In the first year of the clinic that is located on a movable trailer, Lussier said 200 residents have been seen. He said he and the other volunteers – including physicians and nurses – foresee a promising future for the program.

“We feel this service will continue to grow,” said Lussier of the clinic that has offered services in Sylvania and Newington. “We want to reach out to Hiltonia and Rocky Ford.”

Rev. Warren Devevo said his GraceBibleBaptistChurch offers a food bank pantry that is open to residents.

“Our church is in the business of loving people,” Devevo said. “We have given out over half a million pounds of food since we started this.”

Each month approximately 1,000 people are supplied with food and other items at the church at

305 Azalea Drive
, just off of
West Ogeechee Street
in Sylvania.

“We have never turned someone away,” Devevo said.

Along with a selection of food that includes meats and produce, Devevo said the pantry may also have hygiene products, hair dyes and diapers.

The pantry accepts donations and is operated by the church congregation

“All of our members work it from time to time,” said Devevo of the program that offers assistance during this time of high unemployment and cut wages. “We will help you maintain your dignity.”

Although the free meeting was designed to be just informational in format for struggling families, gift door prizes for meals, gasoline, cash and donated items also were given out to individuals. One lucky lady even received a digital camera from the opportunity drawing.

Donating prizes were J and E Oil Company, State Farm, Jalepenos and Planters Telephone.

For more information, contact Kight at the

United Way
of ScrevenCounty office at 564-5770.