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Warren County group seeking assistance due to rise in families needing aid
By Ben Orcutt - firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- A charitable group that has been working in the town and Warren County for more than 30 years is in grim financial shape, according to its president.
According to a fact sheet given out by George Rutter, 2,698 families sought help from the Front Royal/Warren County Congregational-Community Action Project last year, and this year C-CAP expects about 3,000 families will come calling for assistance of some sort, whether it be for food, clothing, utilities or shelter.
While C-CAP is able to meet its clothing and food demands, it is in dire need of money to help families with utilities and shelter. Last May and June it cut out all assistance for utilities due to depleted funds, Rutter said, and when the program started back up, it was at a level of $100 instead of $150.
Now the payment is down to $85 for utilities per family, Rutter said.
Last year, C-CAP provided $78,067 in aid to 649 families for mostly utilities and shelter.
"Our job financially is to manage a shortage," Rutter said Wednesday. "The way money comes to us is cyclic. Most of our money comes in the first six months of the year and then it drops off."
The problem, Rutter said, is most of the families come in seeking financial help in the last half of the year.
Rutter said most of C-CAP's funding comes from churches and community organizations, some individuals and then some grants.
"Generally, of those who seek funds, it's about 70 percent that we're able to approve," Rutter said. "We only provide financial assistance once a year. Most of our help is for utilities, electric bills, heat, shelter. We don't stick exactly to the poverty guidelines for the USDA and those kinds of things. We look at each case and try and see exactly where they stand. Generally most of the people we see qualify for Food Stamps and meet that financial criteria. We don't say, if you don't, we won't. ... So we try and really look at exactly what their circumstances are."
One of the problems is getting the word out that C-CAP needs help, Rutter said.
"We just need people to know that we're here," he said. "We recognize that there's a lot of demands for financial assistance. ... What we need to do is broaden our base of financial support. There's only so much gold you can get out of a goose that lays golden eggs. You can't beat on it too much, and what we need is to reach out to more people, all of whom are tight, but if we could get a little bit more from others, and get more involved in the way of particularly of businesses as well as organizations that we don't reach out to now, that's what we need to do."
C-CAP will pay $100 for assistance with shelter, Rutter said.
"Which means you can't put somebody up in a motel for $150 a week when you only have $100," he said. "So we're not using our money real well there, but it's better than nothing."
However, if the program has to cut back any more on aid for utilities, it may be best to do what it did last year for May and June and just stop such aid until the financial picture brightens, Rutter said.
"The projection is that we probably will not make it even at the level we're at now," he added.
C-CAP had been spending about $200 a month buying food from the food bank to supplement donations that it receives. However, to save that money and put it toward aid for utilities, Rutter said C-CAP gives out food once every six weeks to families instead of every month.
"What we really need to do is get over the summer doldrums, as I call them, and then get sources that we can count on in the future, because it's sort of a continuing need, and it's something people need to think about regularly, even if it's a small amount," Rutter said. "The fact that it's regular is very helpful to us rather than a big lump at one time because then we've got to figure out how to stretch it."
A nonprofit, Front Royal/Warren County C-CAP has been helping local families since 1978 and is located in the rear basement of St. Luke Community Clinic at 316 N. Royal Ave. Operating hours are from 9 a.m. till noon, Monday through Friday. For more information, call the office at 636-2448 or Rutter at 635-1235.