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Fort Madison Daily Democrat, Aug. 8th, 2014

Aug. 8, 2014, noon · 0 comments


Fort Madison, Iowa

Posted: Friday, August 8, 2014 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:02 pm, Fri Aug 8, 2014.

by Cindy Iutzi

The Salvation Army has adopted a way to organize giving in Lee County that all but eliminates duplication of services, and strenuous searches for support by needy families are no longer necessary.

“It has been about four months since we have opened up the Charity Tracker network to agencies and churches in Lee County,” said Maj. Mark Litherland, Lee County headquarters, Keokuk. “At present we have about 13 agencies/churches who have joined and I know of another five or six from Fort Madison that are talking about joining and just working it through the deacon boards.”

Several additional Keokuk churches are discussing membership in the system at summer’s end.

The list of local agencies and churches using Charity Tracker includes both Salvation Army offices (Keokuk and Fort Madison), both United Way offices (Keokuk and Fort Madison), All Saints Catholic Church, First Christian Church, Lee County General Assistance, Trinity United Methodist Church and several more.

“We have seen great networking with the other organizations who didn’t know what was being handled by other groups,” Litherland said. “We have found that we take the most information from people and smaller groups can take a look at our information.

“This program helps us to coordinate efforts like the family that came in recently with a rather high utility bill. The family has not used the services of The Salvation Army or other agencies often (maybe once a year). They have just gotten a bit behind and are at risk of having their utility turned off. We were able to do our normal intake interview and enter the family information on Charity Tracker, and then post a bulletin that was emailed to all Charity Tracker members.”

The bulletin indicated the family’s needs, that the intake was completed and that the need was verified. Moreover, it showed that the family needed help getting commitments to complete the need. “Within one day, two other agencies in the network emailed back that they would partner with The Salvation Army,” Litherland said. “By the end of that first day, the need was met and we were able to tell the family exactly where they needed to go to complete their assistance, saving time for the family in need as well as all the agencies involved.”

When the network opened in April in Lee County, The Salvation Army and several local network agencies/churches checked their records from the start of the fiscal year in October 2013 for services rendered. From October 2013 to the present day, the network can account for 1,718 individuals receiving assistance. There were 1,573 acts of assistance offered to those individual. The assistance is valued at $98,889, according to Litherland.

Future plans

At the request of the Keokuk School District, The Salvation Army is taking over the Long Weekend Food Program for elementary school students, Litherland said.

“We have named this new program The Salvation Army Feed My Sheep meal program,” Litherland said. “Starting with Labor Day, The Salvation Army is providing food packs for elementary school students on the free or reduced lunch program. The program is designed to feed the children through the weekend.”

The Feed My Sheep program is intended for the six long weekends that occur in the school year when there are no classes on Friday and/or Monday.

“We are pleased to share that there is a major corporation in Keokuk who has already volunteered to step up and come to The Salvation Army and pack each of the meal packs for this program,” Litherland said.

Food packs will include food for breakfast, lunch and dinner that needs little or no help from an adult or older sibling.

Social Worker

The Salvation Army is in the process of hiring a social worker who has a degree in social work to manage the organization’s Pathway of Hope Program, according to Litherland.

“The program is designed to partner community leaders with families who are in poverty and want to be independent, but do not know how to take those steps,” he said. “It is a program designed to set up mentor partnerships and help walk a family from poverty to independence. It is expected that this program will start slowly by mid-August and then by January (after the Christmas rush) really get into the heart of the matter.”

Litherland said The Salvation Army has seen “great success” with the Pathway of Hope program.

“It’s similar to the Bridges Out of Poverty Program,” he said. “Caseworkers access other groups and individuals to help with the mentoring process.”

Charity Tracker can link people from one program to another such as Pathway of Hope.

“It really helps us to see what the real problem is,” Litherland said.

Here's a link to the original article.

Categories: Press

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