My time spent with Crisis Assistance Ministry, a valuable community resource worth exploring
Posted on 12 Aug 2012 by Molly Trosch
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to shadow the staff at Crisis Assistance Ministry for a half day. The experience was enriching and incredibly informative for me, especially because before that day, I hadn’t really known about Crisis Assistance or what it does to help the community.
Crisis Assistance Ministry provides financial and other tangible assistance to those who truly need it. Many of those they serve are considered the “working poor”: they work low-wage jobs, have been severely impacted by the declining economy, and live paycheck-to-paycheck—whether it’s a fixed number or not. Crisis Assistance provides emergency financial support, along with addressing and assisting with long-term solutions. In a year, the agency provides over 51,000 people across Mecklenburg County with financial support — and this number does not include the 13,300 families helped by their Free Store, or the 2000 families served by their Furniture Bank. In short, Crisis Assistance Ministry does a lot of good for a lot of people.
During my time shadowing at Crisis Assistance, I sat in on an interview with a client applying for financial support. The woman was a single parent with two very young children who had recently been padlocked out of her home and forced to drift between her relatives’ homes. She needed help with covering her rent, utilities, transportation, childcare, diapers, and other necessities — all on a part-time, big-box store employee’s salary. By coming to Crisis Assistance and asking for help, she was able to receive financial help in paying her rent, the resources and encouragement to attain another part-time job, and a referral to the Furniture Bank to get a new bed for her infant.
I also learned about one of the newer resources at Crisis Assistance, called the Benefit Bank. It’s software that aims to take the pressures and stresses out of applying for resources. The staff realized that many resources go untapped and unused simply because people aren’t aware of what is available to them or are intimidated by the process. Over the last three years, the Benefit Bank’s partnership with Crisis Assistance Ministry has provided help to thousands with resources such as voter registration, tax filing, and aid such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s a really valuable program, and it proves that a little help can have a big impact.
The needs are so great at Crisis Assistance Ministry– that’s the bad part. But the good part is that it’s so easy to help. You can donate clothing, books, and even household goods to the Free Store or give that “slightly old but still in pretty good shape” sofa that’s been sitting for years in your garage to the Furniture Bank. You can volunteer in one of a dozen different roles once a week, once a month or even a few times a year. Or you could simply donate money, which is perhaps what’s needed the most.
They’re holding an event right now — or rather, a Non-Event Gala, where instead of using money to hold a black-tie gala, they use the money raised by the event to further their resources and truly help those who need it, instead of simply giving the party-goers another silent auction. Check it out! You can stay home, do what you please, and still “do your part” to help others.
The entire experience I had at Crisis Assistance Ministry was eye-opening, to say the least. The staff members are filled with compassion and strive to provide aid as fully as they can, while still maintaining the client’s dignity. It’s truly a uniquely heartwarming experience to witness, and I’m incredibly glad I did.
Molly Trosch is a recent graduate of Myers Park High School and will attend Roanoke College. She is an intern with From The Hip Communications.