Aid group hires coordinator

Published 8:51 pm Monday, September 17, 2012

Lorna Slaughter works on an aid application in her Bank Street office on Monday. She is the new services coordinator for the Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk, a group of churches that are working together to help the community.

The Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk has hired a services coordinator to help connect people in need with assistance and resources in the community.

Lorna Slaughter has been working with CAPS for about a month. The group is a coalition of 12 churches in Suffolk that wanted a centralized way to handle the many requests for assistance that come to their offices.

“They got involved because they were being overwhelmed,” Slaughter said of the member churches. “They didn’t feel like they were helping. It was just putting a bandage on the problem. This allows them to do ministry better and that way no one church has to bear the brunt of this responsibility.”

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The churches collaborate to fund Slaughter’s position and the financial assistance that goes to clients. Slaughter said there is an apparent need in the community for help.

“The week I was in training, I started getting calls for assistance,” she said.

The organization helps families get through a crisis situation, which may include not being able to pay their rent or purchase needed medication, Slaughter said.

Clients also get budget help so they can avoid being in a similar position in the future, she said.

“It’s been a real eye-opener,” Slaughter said of the budget worksheet she goes through with each client. “You learn, ‘Maybe I need to put away for a rainy day.’ We help them to see where they are and how they can not be at that point again.”

Slaughter said she found out about the job when she went to a CAPS meeting on behalf of her church, Suffolk Christian Fellowship Ministries on East Washington Street. She realized the position was a good fit for her, she said.

So far, Slaughter said she is enjoying the work and feels like the organization is helping people.

“In a lot of cases, we are meeting the goal of bringing people to where they were prior to the crisis,” she said.

The main qualification to receive help is having the ability to sustain once the assistance brings the person back to pre-crisis level, she said.

“If not, it defeats the purpose,” Slaughter said. “We’ll be back at the same point next month.”

But perhaps the biggest difference she has made in people’s lives is asking to pray with everyone who leaves her office. So far, no one has refused her, even if they didn’t qualify for help.

Slaughter encouraged other area churches to get involved in the organization.

“It lies on us, not government,” she said. “They’re going to do their part, but we have to do our part too.”

To contact Slaughter, whose office is located in the Salvation Army building at 400 Bank St., call 539-5201. For more information about joining, call the Rev. Leslie Ferguson at 255-4168.

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