A crash course is social services in Dallas County

Published 11:45 pm Thursday, February 21, 2019

Another month is ending, which means another meeting of the Leadership Dallas County has passed.

This month was all about social services, the work the groups are doing in the community and like everywhere else we have been, we were schooled in common misconceptions.

Something I have found in each class session is each time I always learn something new.

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We are never done learning as individuals, and we can never know everything there is to know.

That is exciting to me that the learning process continues for the rest of our lives.

The Department of Human Resources (DHR) was where I learned the most this time.

Patricia J. Thomas with the JOBS Program and the Family Assistance Program spoke about DHR, and the common misconceptions that people have of the program particularly the Subsidized Employment Program (SEP).

We also toured the offices of United Way of Selma and Dallas County.

Their biggest need right now is volunteer reading tutors.

According to fliers provided by the program during our visit, Dallas County students score near the bottom of every list in our state.

You can be a tutor by calling 334-412-2081.

United Way of Selma and Dallas County was busy in 2018 bringing services through partnerships.

With their community partners, United Way totaled $220,000.

Partnerships included the Salvation Army, SABRA Sanctuary, Red Cross, Boy and Girl Scout troops, Central Alabama Regional Child Advocacy Center, Selma Area Food Bank and the Dallas County Family Resource Center.

United Way also has some direct service partnerships with Healthlink, which is a prescription assistance program, Doc in a Bus which is a free clinic for uninsured, diabetic monitoring programs, community grants and tutoring programs.

HealthLink partnership provided over $1,300 worth of free prescription drugs to over 1,300 clients.

Then we get to one of the mega hitters in social services: The Edmundite Missions.

For the past 80 years, the Edmundite Missions has served the poorest of the poor in Selma and the rest of the Deep South.

That is why this mission exists, which is to serve the poor, and also to provide a pathway out of poverty.

There can only be so many times that a Band-Aid can be placed on a problem before you have to get to the root of a situation, and the Edmundite Missions is one of the organizations that provide the first steps in getting someone back on their feet.

The two objectives, service and solutions, are the anchors of all the Edmundite’s work.

They serve more than 1,000 meals daily at the Bosco Nutrition Center.

More than 300 meals are delivered daily to the homebound poor in Selma, and 1,500 weekend Breakfast bags are delivered each week to three elementary schools whose students all qualify for Federal food support during the school week.

For most students, their only meal is the meal they get at school.

1,000 food bags are provided each week to the rural poor.

It is more than just food for the Edmundite Missions’ service.

They counsel over 120 people each week to prevent and solve individual and family crises, 125 families are provided temporary housing each year in the face of eviction, over 200 people are clothes each month in Selma and another 100 in rural areas, over 100 people are referred each month to specialized public or private assistance agencies and over 1,000 poor, isolated elderly are reached each month with companionship and counseling.

All of these programs work hard to provide social services to those in need in our community, and they deserve all of our support.

What they do behind the scenes oftentimes goes unnoticed, but it is because of groups like Leadership that allow us to see what people are doing to make an effort to fix and heal our community.