ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times
At some point in time, many people need some form of public help, and much of that assistance is provided through agencies.
Nov. 12, the Liberal Area Coalition for Families is giving community members a chance to access resources to give them a helping hand.
Taking place at Crosspoint Church, the Resource Round-Up is designed as a day for families and individuals to come to one location with multiple community agencies offering services, which LACF Community Health Worker Julie Foster said is intended to be done as way of giving more than just a handout and an information flyer.
“Throughout the year, we have a lot of events that do that, so we wanted to separate this event to allow people to come in to sign up for specific services those agencies will be providing,” she said.
LACF Director Sarah Mersdorf-Foreman agreed.
“If they want to take a GED class right there, they’ll sign up to take the GED class,” she said. “If they need help navigating the Marketplace, we’ll have somebody there who can do that for health insurance.”
Mersdorf-Foreman said this makes the Resource Round-Up not only a one-stop shop, but also a time to get things done by doing more than handing out things for people to follow up with later.
“That’s a barrier for a lot of people,” she said. “I think they have very good intentions on doing something, and life happens and you forget to follow up. This will hopefully remove that barrier.”
Foster explained some of the various resources available at the Nov. 12 event.
“The coalition will have voter registration, and we will have a COVID test,” she said. “We will have people signing up for Medicaid, SNAP applications and the Marketplace. We will have somebody to help out with the Toys for Tots, our Thanksgiving dinner baskets.”
Among other resources available, Seward County Community College will provide help with enrollment for ESL and citizenship classes.
Communities Organizing to Promote Equity, funded from a grant from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, will have workers on hand to take blood pressure tests. Foster said this is just the start of what the Resource Round-Up will have for those who come to Crosspoint Church.
“South Church of God will be there to assist in enrolling in the box commodity program,” she said. “Kansas Appleseed will also help in the SNAP application process. Aetna will be there to provide more knowledge regarding their benefits so members of Aetna know what is offered and how they can get those services.”
Foster said many times, people do not know about services Aetna offers such as transportation and lodging for out-of-town appointments.
“It’s a really big need in this community, so I think Aetna being there and members knowing what the services are will be very helpful,” she said.
Other agencies with resources at the event include Russell Child Development Center, Kansas Children’s Service League and Genesis Family Health.
Memorial Library will provide services such as membership and its Teen Advisory Council.
“This would be a perfect time for teenagers to get their volunteer hours in and get involved with the Teen Council,” Foster said.
Kansas Workforce will also be on hand at the Resource Round-Up. Mersdorf-Foreman said coalition leaders want to make sure they are removing barriers for families and get them connected to services they are eligible for at this time.
“They also get to see the person who will be helping them,” she said. “I think that makes a huge difference having that connection right off the bat.”
Foster said a big barrier for some is the simple knowledge of resources available. She said this barrier still exists despite outreach efforts to inform the community of those services.
“Navigating services can be very confusing,” she said. “We as workers know them very well, but when it comes to a family who is already under stress, language can be a barrier. Transportation can be a barrier.”
With the confusion of navigation, Foster said having multiple agencies under one roof on one day can help.
“Hopefully, we can eliminate that and have somebody walk them to the next table where they’re needing resources and sit next to them and explain to them what it is and what the planning is for,” she said.
Foster too said the Resource Round-Up takes providing assistance for services such as food stamps a step further than simply handing out a business card.
“We will help the family fill out their application that day instead of having them come back,” she said. “Throughout the year, we receive a lot of feedback from community members, families and other agencies, and I think this is the goal from all that feedback we want to accomplish – breaking barriers and being under one roof in one day.”
With some of the services, documents may need to be provided such as proof of income, awards letters for benefits and an ID. Mersdorf-Foreman said, though, help can still be provided if needed documents are not in hand.
“If something’s needed beyond that, they will have someone who reach out to them for more information, but at the very least, it will get the process started for a lot of people on multiple services,” she said.
This is LACF’s first year coordinating the Resource Round-Up, and Mersdorf-Foreman said she and Foster are hoping the event will have a big impact.
“We know it can be helpful if people come,” Mersdorf-Foreman said. “We’re optimistic about the turnout and what we can provide to the families of the community.”
The Resource Round-Up will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at Crosspoint Church at 204 N. Sherman in Liberal. For more information, call LACF at 620-655-7177, or find them on Facebook.