By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
United Way Tar River Region (UWTRR) will oversee a $96,240 fund for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program in Nash and Edgecombe Counties.
The funding source is a federal appropriation from Congress to the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program, and local agencies have until Thursday to apply for funding.
“Administering the Emergency Food and Shelter is a natural fit for United Way, because we’re an umbrella organization for many groups, and we’re used to monitoring funds,” said United Way TRR executive director Ginny Mohrbutter. “These funds are vital for our local non-profit agencies to provide needed emergency food and shelter options for our citizens who are experiencing tougher times. We encourage qualified agencies to apply for the funding and help us meet the basic needs of our local neighbors.”
While Mohrbutter couldn’t provide an exact number of people receiving emergency food and shelter each year, she said, “We know that there are thousands being served in the Twin Counties.”
“Our region does have high poverty rates, high unemployment rates,” Mohrbutter went on to say.
She said the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) looks at those rates to determine the amount of funding a region will receive. Last year, the Twin Counties received $99,299 for the program. Eight of United Way’s partner agencies received funding, and the Salvation Army was the largest recipient.
“It’s just one other form of income that we can count on to help meet the needs and we’re grateful for it. It will help at an incredibly crucial time during the colder winter months,” said Lt. Matt Trantham of the Salvation Army. “It helps us with the tangible side of the food, rent and utility assistance.”
Trantham said he has seen an increase in the number of individuals seeking services from the agency this year. On “any given day,” people will walk into the Salvation Army wanting a bag of food, which the organization provides through its food pantry.
“It’s where the rubber meets the road, helping people meet their basic needs,” Trantham said. The Salvation Army also helps with the “preventative” side of homelessness, by assisting people with utility or rent payments so they won’t face having their electricity turned off or eviction.
The second largest recipient of last year’s funds is the Tarboro Community Outreach, which serves lunchtime meals to the needy and operates a small homeless shelter.
United Way TRR is organizing a Local Emergency Food and Shelter Board to recommend and oversee agencies receiving funding this year. The board is chaired by Warren Stephenson and comprised of National Board member agencies The local board also must include a homeless, formerly homeless, or homeless advocate.
To be considered for emergency food and shelter funding, an organization must be a private, non-profit organization or unit of government, have an acceptable accounting system, practice non-discrimination, have demonstrated the ability to deliver emergency food and/ or shelter program, and have a volunteer board of directors (if non-profit). To obtain a funding application, contact UWTRR at 937-2213, ext. 200.