Opinion

Who comes to Helpline House?

Many islanders come through the doors of Helpline House every day. Here’s a sampling of the real people who stop in both to give, and to receive.

The Christmas giver

Just two months before Christmas, a young woman in her 20s walked through the door to Helpline House. She brought with her $160 worth of various gift cards and quite a few presents to be given out to children and adults alike in the Christmas store. She said that about 12 years ago she walked through that same door, homeless, seeking help. Mardell Witham, now retired, but then an active and caring social worker, helped her find temporary, safe housing. Since then, the Christmas giver said, she has done better each year. Now, each year she brings more gifts for others at Christmas time, never forgetting how she was helped and wishing to help someone else in turn.

The Christmas giver is not alone in her generosity. Over and over, past recipients of Helpline House care have returned with checks, cash, time and gifts, wishing to “give back” some of that help they received when it was most needed. It’s a heart-warming moment when this happens and it is not an unusual occurrence.

Sarah

Since Sarah – a single mom – lost her job last fall, she is trying to hold on to her apartment, feed her two pre-school age sons and be positive about finding a job. Sarah had a small savings account and by budgeting wisely, she is getting by during her job search, except when it comes to her utility bill. She worries about being able to pay for heat during the really cold weather. She worries that her sons will go without a warm bath, let alone a hot dinner.

In 2007, with community support, Helpline House spent more than $10,000 to keep neighbors warm. Additional energy assistance funds of about $1,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are usually exhausted by February, well before the weather turns milder.

Many of you already know of the difference you make in the life of one of your neighbors. Just imagine how relieved Sarah and other families in similar circumstances are when they can pay for their power bills. Resources such as FEMA and other outside agencies, coupled with the generosity of our wonderful Bainbridge community make lives better, every day.

Social Service Purpose Statement

The goal of social work at Helpline House is to take clients from crisis to stability by acting as a bridge. The bridge is composed of a thorough assessment and of referrals to services that respond to immediate needs. After the immediate needs are met and stabilized, the social work team will support the clients to face changes, make new choices that foster independence. While some clients need only a short bridge to stability, a few cross back and forth because of physical and mental limitations. Our end goal for services is to foster self-perpetuating independence as clients learn how to manage their own lives rather than having a social worker manage it for them.

Garnet Logan is a board member at Helpline House

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