Fund-Raiser Planned To Help Struggling Families

St. Vincent de Paul and others plan Sept. 25 event to keep pace with dramatic increase in pleas for help

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A roofer who hasn’t worked in months, struggles desperately to keep a roof over the heads of the kids he’s raising alone.

A fix-it man who has kept things running in Payson for years can’t pay his electric bill, as he struggles to recover from the diabetes-related complications of knee surgery.

A woman trying hard to find a new office job has used up her unemployment benefits and relies on the Food Bank to get through the month — she now faces eviction for lack of $500 in rent.

All across Rim Country, people who have worked hard all their lives and never asked for help — find themselves clinging to the crumbling edge of a decent life.

The government-funded safety net has frayed and snapped. The state-funded Kids Care program to provide medical coverage for the working poor has frozen enrollment, the state agency that used to help people with rent and utility payments now runs through its monthly allotment of money in a week.

Local charities like St. Vincent de Paul’s Food Bank and home support services and the churches supporting Payson Helping Payson have struggled to meet the escalating need, as the downturn lingers month after month.

So those community charities have scheduled a fund-raising walk on Saturday, Sept. 25 to raise money to help neighbors battered by the recession. Walkers will meet in front of Sawmill Theatres and the Edward Jones office behind Chili’s starting at 9:15 a.m. The event will last from about 10 to 11, when fund-raisers will turn in pledges they have gathered.

Anyone interested in participating or contributing can call St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank — or simply show up on Saturday morning.

The organizers hope that the community will continue the “amazing” support offered already this year.

A community coalition last year put together a drive that brought in 50,000 pounds of food and $20,000 in cash donations, to provide supplies for food banks that had reported a dramatic increase in demand — especially from families.

In addition, St. Vincent de Paul has reported a sharp increase in pleas for help from people struggling to pay rent and utility bills — often as a result of unemployment or a medical emergency.

Normally, the charity makes about 10 visits weekly to the homes of people seeking assistance. But in the past year, the average has jumped to more like 17 visits weekly.

Often, the charity runs out of money and cannot help — even people who face homelessness as a result of a lost job or a serious illness.

Many of those clients have exhausted all other options, before turning reluctantly to the charities for help.

The state social welfare programs have generally tightened requirements, imposed formidable paperwork hurdles or simply run out of money.

Last year, St. Vincent de Paul gave away $113,000 in cash grants and $56,000 worth of food. The charity recorded a total of 24,000 visits from people seeking help and provided assistance to a total of 7,000 families.

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