Every Wednesday, the Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund, LEAF, opens the doors of the little white church on Main Street and offers support and referrals for any human service need. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., anyone can drop by the Lyons Community Church at 350 Main Street and have a cup of coffee provided by the Barking Dog Café, or a bottle of water, and talk to someone about getting helpkk. Case management and supportive advocacy work hand-in-hand to support folks in taking control in their lives. Here’s what some of a typical Wednesday might be like.
Sue has a case management appointment at 11 a.m. (The clients in referenced in this article aren’t real people, however all the circumstances are based on actual events.) Sue is a single mother of 2 children with a disability. She needs to have her Town of Lyons utility bill paid for the second time this year. Together, Sue and the case manager go over Sue’s finances. She didn’t have copies of everything she needed, so she is given a sheet with a list of 6 papers to bring to her next appointment. Sue is kind of overwhelmed by the list. When Sue and the supportive advocate go over the list together, it turns out that only 2 of the items present difficulties. She decides to bring the 4 easy items in next week, so she has 2 weeks to find copies of the more tricky ones.
Joellen drops by at 11:30 a.m. because she needs some help filling out an application for child care assistance. The application form is somewhat confusing, and it helps to have an extra pair of eyes on the case. We sit together and figure out what the agency that produced the form wants, and get it done. After visiting LEAF she walks over to the Post Office and mails the form that has been driving her crazy for a month.
Veronica, who had a case management appointment last week, comes by around noon, with a letter she got from her landlord. The three of us (the case manager from the OUR Center, Veronica, and I) talk for 10 minutes about strategies for dealing with it, and give Veronica some phone numbers to call and suggestions about how to ask for advice from some legal experts. She makes an appointment to come in for 15 minutes next week to report back and look at next steps.
Martin has a case management appointment at 1 p.m. He has come in a few times over the last year or so. He has never needed much help, just $30-$40 each time, but he was consistently getting just a bit behind. He is on a fixed income. So the case manager, Martin and I go over his monthly expenses with a fine-toothed comb, talking about what each monthly expense means to him. It turns out that Martin has a land line, a cell phone, internet, and cable. By working with finding different providers and other options, we come up with a plan. Martin can spend a little more on his cell phone and lose the land line, and save $40 a month. Martin can change internet providers, and cancel cable and subscribe to Netflix instead, and save $70 a month. Suddenly, he not only won’t go into debt anymore; he will able to put a little by in savings every month. Martin decides that this week he will cancel his cable and call the new internet service, and makes an appointment to come back in 2 weeks for a check in.
Each week there are slots for 3 or 4 case management appointments: these days, those are filled up one or two weeks out, so it’s a good idea to call LEAF to make an appointment. Sometimes, though, there’s some extra time for walk-ins for case management, so dropping by on Wednesdays is always a good idea. And I am usually available to help walk-in clients with referrals, ideas, or support in making phone calls, setting priorities, and getting things done.
If you don’t know where to turn, turn to LEAF. If we can’t help you, we will try to find someone who can. At a minimum, you can brainstorm the problem with a sympathetic person, and hopefully find some resources, internal or external, to deal with what’s happening. www.leaflyons.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 720-864-4309.