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Committee works to centralize social services

SHERIDAN — A small group of community nonprofit leaders is working to streamline access to social resources for Sheridan’s economically disadvantaged. The goal of the project is to establish a single point of entry to access social services with the ultimate goal of empowering clients to become self sufficient.

The Resource Center Committee is developing a general intake form with the goal of using compiled information to determine which local social programs a person may qualify for, and also to prevent duplication of services among nonprofits that do similar work.

Committee Chair and Executive Director of the Sheridan Health Center Cathi Kindt said that while Sheridan’s various help groups are waiting to be unified under one roof, the group will push forward attempting to enhance communication.

“One of the things we’re hoping to accomplish with this is not only the coordination piece, but to ensure that there’s continued communication,” Kindt said.

“This tool could help prevent overlap,” Kindt said, adding that it’s an unfortunate truth that some people can take advantage of community resources.

Committee Member Larry Penrice agreed it’s easy for Sheridan’s charitable organizations to be exploited if they don’t stay in close contact with one another. While there are many gracious recipients who need help, he said he has seen evidence of people attempting to receive duplicate services by contacting multiple organizations.

“The piece that has to be there is accountability,” Penrice said. “The 1950s model of homelessness where you give people things without trying to make them accountable doesn’t work.

“For all the good we do, we’re enabling people to abuse the system,” he said.

Kindt said that a uniform intake form could also help social service workers to get a holistic idea of a person’s situation and immediately identify multiple programs for which a person may qualify. Kindt said helping a person address the multiple issues that have landed them in poverty — whether it’s financial literacy, substance dependence, educational barriers or a host of other stumbling blocks — it’s possible to help a person envision an alternative lifestyle and ultimately become self sufficient.

The committee is also putting together a plan to logistically unify Sheridan’s key assistance programs.

Committee member and People Assistance Food Bank operator Dan Lick said he is exploring the possibility of purchasing or constructing a building that would serve that purpose.

“Years ago, when I was with the Salvation Army, I had a dream,” Lick said. “I wanted to do one building where all the nonprofits can have an office or a presence.

“I would like to have something where a transient or anybody can walk in and see the person or persons they need to see right away,” he added. “That’s something I’d like to see happen in Sheridan.”

Lick said he’s hoping to have a building secured in approximately a year and a half.

The RCC is one of a handful of existing action groups derived from last year’s community effort sponsored by the Sheridan College Center for a Vital Community focused on addressing poverty at the local level. The CRC plans to continue the project via an event next week dubbed “Action Forum 2.0,” when the RCC and other groups will meet to share notes regarding their progress in their respective areas.

Action Forum 2.0 will be at the Sheridan County YMCA from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Nov. 7.

About

Tracee Davis

Tracee Davis joined the staff at The Sheridan Press in July of 2013. She covers business, energy and public safety. Tracee grew up in Kemmerer and has lived in several locations both in the U.S. and overseas. Her journalism training stems from her military service.

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