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Community Unites to Provide Family Support

Feb. 24, 2010

In an effort to connect the people who most need local and federal assistance with those who provide it, a Parent Support Workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Activities Center of First Baptist Church, 500 Webster.

Jodi Terwilliger-Stacey, a local attorney who attends the church, coordinated the workshop, at which 17 local, county, and state agencies and nonprofits will have representatives available to explain their services and help individuals fill out forms to apply for assistance.

"This workshop is to address the financial viability of low income families and single parents, primarily single moms," said Terwilliger-Stacey, who does pro bono assistance since moving to Texas with her family in October 2008. "Single moms are in crisis - they're really doing it all and doing it alone. They're barely making it."

Agencies come together

Terwilliger-Stacey applauded the response of the 17 agencies participating in the workshop. "The agencies are aware of the need, and they want to help. When they unite, they are a powerful force."

More than 15 Baylor School of Social Work students will be available at the workshop to help individuals fill out the application forms. The School's Center for Family and Community Ministries held a training session at the School on Feb. 18 with the students, facilitated by Gloria Martinez, with Catholic Charities of Central Texas, and Esther Morales, with Helpings Food Stamp Outreach Program. Terwilliger-Stacey expects almost 75 volunteers from churches, Baylor and the community to be on hand to help at the workshop. Many of these volunteers will serve as workshop advocates to assist attendees.

Kelli Hepner, an MSW student, attended the training and will be volunteering Saturday. "I have worked with single moms in the past and I have watched them struggle for basic necessities, like diapers and clothes. They are often struggling and need a voice," she said. "They spend their time caring for their children, but this weekend, someone will help care for them and give them the direction they need."

Better society

Trevor Stephen, another MSW student volunteering, commented on the wider impact of helping individuals. "When you help the individual get her needs met the family is made stronger; strong families make better communities and better societies."

The applications for assistance include child support, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women's, Children and Infants program (WIC), and Child Care Services (CCS) among others.

Agencies that will be represented include: Office of the Attorney General, Catholic Charities, Helpings Food Stamp Outreach Program, the Public Health District, Waco Housing Authority, Legal Assistance Project, McLennan County Health Services, Family Health Center, South 18th Street Community Dental Clinic, Potter's Vessel, Christian Women's Job Corps, Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas, McLennan Community College (GED/ESL classes), EOAC, Goodwill, Caritas, and Child Care Services. TSTC and MCC will also be present to provide information on their educational programs and financial aid.

A partial list of services available includes public housing, emergency assistance, health and dental care, prescription drug assistance, computer skills, job interviewing skills, certification programs, utility/rent assistance, guardianship, GED/ESL classes and more.

Child care for children up to 12 will be provided. To register or for more information, contact Nicky at First Baptist Church at 254-752-3000.