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Help group says number of needy people growing

October 28, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

The number of area residents needing help through hard times is on the increase, the coordinator for the Waynesboro Area Human Services Council said Friday.

"The requests for assistant doubled from 2000 to 2001 and again this year over last year," coordinator Denise Esser said.

She blamed layoffs from area businesses and factories including Grove Worldwide in Shady Grove, Pa.

Esser, speaking at an open house at the council's new offices at 24 East Main St., said she also sees more local residents coming in who have lost jobs in Maryland and West Virginia.

"It not just Franklin County," she said.

The council takes in clients who live in the Waynesboro Area and Greencastle-Antrim school districts.

The council was organized by the area fellowship of churches in 1979 to provide the poor with a central location to go to for assistance, Esser said.

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People who meet the council's income requirements can get emergency cash for immediate living expenses or, in some cases, to pay past-due utility bills, get free food, clothing and diapers, free school supplies, counseling services and referrals to other agencies.

The council rents office space to the Cumberland Valley Mental Health Center, Catholic Charities, Franklin/Fulton County Mental Health/Mental Retardation, drug and alcohol programs and occupational vocational rehabilitation counseling services.

The agency always needs cash, food and clothing donations, said Michael A. Hockenberry, president of the council's board of directors. It gets its financial support from the United Way, grants and donations, Hockenberry said.

Anyone wishing to donate cash, food or clothing can do so at the 24 East Main St. office or by calling the council at 1-717-762-6941.

Last year, the council helped 595 households with clothing, 267 with its food bank and handed out 1,601 food boxes, gave more than $21,000 in emergency cash to 220 families and helped 17 homeless individuals and families, Esser said.

She and Missie Baer, the administrative assistant, are the only paid employees. Much of the work is done by volunteers.

The council had been operating in a rented house owned by the United Church of Christ at 40 W. North St. since it was organized in 1979. The church asked the agency to move this year because it needed the building for its own use, Esser said.

The church building had three floors and provided the same amount of space - about 3,000 square feet, - as the new East Main Street office, she said. The new office is spread over one floor which provides easier access to clients, she said.

The Main Street location offers higher visibility for the agency, Esser said.

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