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Kiwanians hear report on Christian Help Center

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At the March 4 meeting of the Roxboro Kiwanis Club at La Piazza restaurant in Uptown Roxboro, club member Tanya Evans presented the club with a $2,000 contribution on behalf of her employer Duke Energy for its scholarship fund. Amanda Morrow with the Person County Education Foundation was presented with a contribution from the club. She noted that thefoundation has used its funds for scholarships, teacher mini-grants and in support of school field trips.

Cynthia Wilson, director of the Christian Help Center, noted that the city and county are growing and that presents challenges for her organization. Five years ago 400 families were served, but that number is 1,280 now. She noted that rent and utilities are big budget items for clients, illustrated by the fact that the Christian Help Center spent $18,000 in 2018 for power bills.

The organization provides three food bags per family each month. Wilson indicated that the Duke Endowment has committed $50,000 over three years in support of the purchase of fruits and vegetables. The CHC maintains 10 freezers and four refrigerators for food storage.

United Way also provided seed money for a case worker to help those who are homeless. She explained that some of these people have jobs, but do not have the funds for rental and utility deposits. Low income housing is scarce in Person County.

Wilson sees this as a crisis in the making. Some of those in need are referred to adjoining counties because the policy is to prioritize those who are legitimate Person County residents. Finding housing takes two to three weeks, which highlights the need for a transitional house, containing some separate apartments that allow for multi-family residence. The Episcopal church has donated land on North Main Street and the Christian Help Center is currently seeking an architect to design the facility. When the transitional house becomes reality, the CHC will require that an occupant have a job and will limit occupancy to 12 weeks. This will also be on the PATS route in order to facilitate transportation. A grant will be sought from the Duke Endowment through the United Methodist Church to fund this new facility in part.

Federal low income guidelines are used by the CHC to screen its applicants for assistance, similar to what is used by Habitat for Humanity. Job history is a requirement and someone must prove 90 days of residence in Person County to qualify for benefits. The CHC also helps those who are transient to get emergency lodging and transportation.

The CHC Success Initiative program gives clients training in financial management and job skills, including how to deal with common residential issues like utility bills and household maintenance. Wilson said a certification of completion of this program is valued by employers.

She emphasized that we are becoming a senior society, such that more of this type housing is needed. At the close of her presentation she was presented with a contribution from the club in support of the activities of the CHC.

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