|Pagosa Outreach Connection (POC) has a new addition to their team — the Seventh-day-Adventist Church now joins government organizations, non-profits and area churches in providing aid for people in need. |
Pagosa Outreach Connection began in August 2003 with Barbara Hendricks from Archuleta County Human Services, Pastor Don Ford from United Methodist Church and Annie Ryder from St. Patrick's Episcopal. The first year $13,731 was dispensed to community members, in 2004, $36,499, in 2005, $35,731 and 2006, a whooping $41,993. Continued...
“We are unique”, said Hendricks. “We are the only place in the state of Colorado where government and faith-based organizations have united to help people during an emergency. Other agencies in the state are in awe of us working together.”
Pagosa Outreach Connection representatives in action. Photos courtesy of Liz Rosenberg.
Hendircks is a dynamic woman, a go-getter with class. She is a fourth generational Pagosan who went to school with Director of Human Services Erlinda Gonzalaz; both of their mothers graduated together.
The organizations that belong to Pagosa Outreach Connection are Archuleta County Social Services, Congregation Kadima Yisrael, Community United Methodist Church, Grace Evangelical Free Church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, LPEA, Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Rotary, Salvation Army, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, Trinity Anglican Church, United Way and newcomer Seventh-day-Adventist.
The program is designed to assist individuals or families in a one-time emergency. A woman breaks an arm and cannot work, a family cannot afford car repairs, but needs the vehicle for transportation to work. These are just two examples of people needing temporary support from POC resources.
According to Hendricks, a detailed application needs to be completed at Human Services in Town Hall; help in filling out the application is available. The application is then assessed by Hendricks and Family Advocates Kathy Kulyk and Liz Rosenberg. A Self-Sufficiency Matrix is used as a guide. The matrix includes family income, employment, housing, food, childcare, education, family relations, substance abuse, life skills and more. Information gathered is strictly confidential.
POC meets every Thursday at 8:30 am. Once the request and dollar amount of the individual or family is stated, a representative from each faith-based entity or organization bids on that request. One church may put in $25, another $50, the bidding continues until the dollar amount is reached.
Three of the churches have pantries packed with food. One box of food lasts a family of four for three days. City Market cards are given so families can buy milk and meat. Gasoline cards enable workers to buy gas so no time is lost in earning a paycheck. Gas vouchers are furnished by Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Salvation Army, United Methodist Church and St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. Continued...
“The Salvation Army gives in a quiet way, with every penny staying in Archuleta County,” said Hendricks. The POC team choose what family received a van donated by UU. Hendricks added, "The highest amount given to one family from POC was $900."
Pagosa Outreach Connection meets every Thursday at 8:30 am to determine how they can assist a community member in need.
According to Hendricks, LPEA donates money accumulated from their round-up fund. The Rotary is their largest donor, giving $5,000 a year. Immaculate Heart of Mary gives 10 percent of collections one weekend a month for stewardship. Preservation of Families receives only $7,000 a year from the federal government. “By pooling our monies together we can help many more people,” explained Hendricks.
“Few people get denied, as long as they are self-sufficient. If they are drowning in debt and unable to get spending under control they are referred to Consumer Control Counseling and Debt Consolidation”, said Hendricks.
Kulyk said, "the County even has a program for transients stranded in Pagosa Springs. First they need to go to the Sheriff’s Department and cleared as not having a criminal record. They are given one night lodging, food, money for gasoline or a bus ticket from Durango to their destination."
Kulyk who works for Adult Protection said “the government only gives $2,000 a year for Seniors. Many seniors need help with the high cost of prescription drugs and other services. Money for one month’s worth of drugs may be given by POC and the Salvation Army. Meanwhile, Kulyk researches less expensive sources, locating discounts from the drug manufacturers."
The team firmly believes that what happens to one person in the community affects everyone in the community. Their mission statement reads: Pagosa Outreach Connection is a partnership of individuals and organizations that provide emergency assistance to people in need. Our goal is to empower people and families to move toward independence and self-sufficiency, offering, not a hand-out, but a helping hand. Continued...
Hendricks said, "It's a joyful atmosphere when the group comes to the table every week. Everyone puts their religious differences aside to catch people who would otherwise fall through the cracks."
"We are the only place in the state of Colorado where government and faith-based organizations have united to help people during an emergency," exclaimed Barbara Hendricks.
Hendricks encourages other faiths and organizations to join Pagosa Outreach Connection.
For more information on joining POC, donating, or if you need emergency assistance call Archuleta County Human Services at 264-2182.