Local programs extend assistance to furloughed government workers
Local service organizations have extended their assistance programs to help government workers affected by the partial shutdown of the federal government.
Project HOPE Food Bank announced Friday night that it would extend its assistance program to local employees who were furloughed after food bank Director Ted Thompson decided “he could not stand the fact that so many local people were going without paychecks,” Assistant Director Becky Chote said Saturday.
To help prevent furloughed workers from going deeper into a financial crisis, Project HOPE Food Bank will offer up emergency food boxes containing a variety of products easily combined into meals. Currently, the only issue is not knowing exactly how many local federal employees are affected by the shutdown.
“I have called (state Rep.) Bruce Cozart last night and he really did not have a feel for how many (furloughed workers) there were. I put in an email to
the office of our state representative but they will not be open until Monday. I really don’t know how many people are struggling right now but we are dedicated to serving these people,” Chote said.
Project HOPE Food Bank is not the only service organization in Hot Springs prepared to offer assistance to federal government employees in the area. The Salvation Army and Jackson House both confirmed that furloughed employees are eligible for their assistance programs on Saturday.
“We don’t ever want to turn anyone away,” said Captain Stephanie Hargis with The Salvation Army.
Furloughed workers are eligible for the clothing and utility assistance programs with The Salvation Army. With the utility assistance program, applicants would receive help in paying the electric and gas bill for their homes.
“If people don’t have dependable income or if they don’t know when their next paycheck is going to be because they’re furloughed, they can come in and take advantage of out utility assistance programs,” Captain Bradley Hargis said.
According to Bradley Hargis, government employees will be eligible to receive assistance multiple times depending on how long the partial government shutdown continues. He added that he hopes the shutdown ends very soon.
At Jackson House, anyone living in Hot Springs for at least six months is available to receive food, clothing, and household assistance. However, at this point in time, they are only advertising food and clothing with other miscellaneous assistance that changes on a daily basis.
“We occasionally have medications, gas vouchers, and whatnot but that’s only if our pantry is stocked and the needs are being met,” said Tami Jones.
Currently, that is not the case. Due to the sudden increase in need, the supplies at many of these assistance programs will run out quicker than anticipated, the organizations said. Each program is funded through private donations and depends on them to fill in through various gaps throughout the year. Now, the organizations say they will need to depend on private donations from the public much sooner than initially anticipated.
“It’s not just the government people that are needing help. My daughter-in-law cannot get a job because the FBI isn’t processing background checks at this time. There are a lot of people being affected by this so the need is going to be great. We all should step up to help our neighbors,” Chote said.
Each assistance program requires applicants to provide some sort of proof of need, whether it is proof of a furlough if they are a government employee or proof of low income for anyone else in need of assistance during this time. Documents showing a pending food stamp application and proof of residency are required to receive assistance at Jackson House.
“Whatever they have (as proof of furlough) we will respect and gratefully reach out to these people. Hopefully, it won’t go on very long, but we are prepared to see them through the crisis,” Chote said.
FRESH DELIVERY: Volunteers with Project HOPE Food Bank, Charles Hood, left, and Gordon Hager unload a fresh shipment of canned goods at the food bank on Monday.