Saturday’s 2-1-1 Day ‘a great success,’ all officials say

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 12, 2007 - 2-1-1 Day in Sulphur Springs was a great success, 2-1-1 and CANHelp officials said Friday afternoon at the close of the day’s 2-1-1/CANHelp open house.

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Delta County Judge Ted Carrington (middle) has a good time chatting with social work intern David Romero (far left), Texas A&M University-Commerce, and CAN Help staff members (left to right) Ashlei Vaughn-Gilbert, Echo Gregory, Dawn Sheffield and Beverly Morrison during the “2-1-1” open house held Friday at the CAN Help office on Church Street.

At least one person representing agencies from all nine counties served through the 2-1-1 call center, as well as Delta County Judge Ted Carrington and representatives for the Arkansas-Texas Council of Governments were present to show their support not only for 2-1-1 Day in Sulphur Springs Friday, 2-1-1 Day in Texas Sunday and the local program, but also in support of CANHelp and to learn more about its programs.

Carrington was not only “very supportive” but also expressed interest in finding ways he as a county judge could help 2-1-1 and CANHelp. He also indicated to CANHelp officials that the first part of this week he plans to issue a proclamation, much like the one issued Thursday by Sulphur Springs Mayor Freddie Taylor declaring Friday 2-1-1 day in Sulphur Springs, designating a day as 2-1-1 day in Delta County, according to Echo Gregory, assistant director/outreach and community development.

�We were especially pleased that Ark-Tex-Cog came all the way from Texarkana here to support us and find out more about what we�re doing. We appreciate everyone who came, especially Judge Carrington and those from agencies we serve and were definitely pleased that ATCOG was here,� Gregory said.

Gregory said the open house served as an education tool for 2-1-1 Texas and CANHelp, which oversees 2-1-1 as well as houses Faith in Action, Children In The Middle. CANHelp, also referred to as Hopkins County Community Action Network, is also working to reestablish the charitable clinic discontinued a few years ago due to lack of funds.

�The way I explain what we do here to those I market to is the motto �Let us help you help your clients,�� Gregory said.

The goal of CAN Help is to find a niche for ministries or programs or to help with a need, according to Sheffield.

2-1-1 North East Texas Region gives callers in  Bowie, Cass, Lamar, Delta, Franklin, Hopkins, Morris, Red River and Titus counties quick referrals to services and assistance agencies providing help they need.

Simply put, 2-1-1 is the number to call when you don’t know who to call, CANHelp executive director Dawn Sheffield explained.

�2-1-1 is connected to nearly every service in the state including government agencies, food pantries, career services, after-school programs, counseling services and many other state and local resources. It also helps people find food, shelter and clothing, medical and mental health assistance, affordable child care, elder care, housing assistance, disaster relief and much more.

Faith in Action is a national program recently started in Hopkins County thanks to a grant. However, more volunteers, funding and donations are needed to make the program a success. The outreach program is designed to pickup where other programs leave off, particularly for those who don’t qualify for services but can’t afford the cost, and those with needs for which there are no services in this area.

Faith in Action volunteers could perform a wide variety of tasks ranging from changing an elderly or disabled person’s light bulbs or fixing meals for them, if they have no one else to do it for them to helping a disabled person get their home remodeled so that it is wheelchair accessible to simply visiting with people or reading to them. The idea with the latter would be for the volunteer to form a long term relationship with the person being served.

Faith In Action volunteers need not have any special skills, as they will attend a special training class to teach them the skills they will need. Criminal background checks will be conducted on all Faith In Action Volunteers.

Children In The Middle seminars provide a forum for individuals who are experiencing divorce or other relationship difficulties to explore situations where children are frequently drawn into adult conflicts. The Children In The Middle seminar utilizes video, workbook and discussion formats to assist individuals in recognizing situations in which children are “caught into the middle” of adult conflicts and then to learn skills and techniques that will allow them to insulate their children from the ill-effects of these conflicts.

�Classes are generally held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. A registration fee of $40 is charged to cover costs of materials as well as the certified person conducting the class.

CANHelp until a few years ago was able to offer a charitable clinic which offered acute care treatment for such things as respiratory problems, urinary tract issues, mild colds, diabetes and high blood pressure. CANHelp is hoping to once again offer the program in the near future, provided they are able to obtain supplies, professionals to assist with the program and space to house it. The program is definitely needed among minority population which are experiences the largest percent of diabetes cases, often because it goes untreated or undiagnosed due to lack of funding or adequate medical insurance and care, according to Gregory. The charitable clinic would once again be able to offer diabetes and blood pressure checks for those and other individuals, as well as education materials, which could prevent other medical difficulties which arise when those ailments go untreated, she explained.

Program officials said the need is still great for a charitable clinic for its variety of services, as the office still receive on average at least one call a day from people asking about it because they are unable to afford other care.

She said that the biggest problems for 2-1-1 and other CAN Help programs is that the public is not aware of the many services they offer, and the need for more advocates to help educate the public about 2-1-1 and Can Help, funding to keep or get the programs going and expanding, and space to house all of the various programs. They are running out of room to house all of the operations oversee by CANHelp and are in desperate need of either another, larger building to rent or a building or land to be donated for CANHelp.

More information about CAN Help programs, advocacy or making donations can be found on the web site: www.canhelponline.org, by calling 903-885-9797 or at the CANHelp office at 525 Church St.

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