In a troubled economy, they can helpSteph Coffey is on the front lines when it comes to the current economy and its effects on Lake County.
By: Mike Creger, Lake County News Chronicle
Steph Coffey is on the front lines when it comes to the current economy and its effects on Lake County. She’s the director of Two Harbors’ North Shore Horizon, a group that provides help for the homeless and victims of domestic abuse.
“We’ve had a 35 percent increase in services,” she said Tuesday. “There are a lot more homeless and those using food banks.”
That increase is why area organizations, volunteers and businesses are supporting “Lake County Community Connect” 1-6 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 22) at Reunion Hall in Silver Bay. It’s a response to the need out there and a one-stop shop on how to get financial help in these tough times.
Organizer Beth Peterson, from the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, said “This one-day event is a great way for households that are struggling to make ends meet to learn about services in our area and sign up for them that day, without have to run all over the county to get applications. ”
For Leah Hall, who works on housing issues for AEOA, Community Connect is a way to bring those needing services to her, instead of trying to find them in the remote areas of the county. “We don’t have the classic cases of homelessness here,” she said. “A lot of it is people living in shacks, sort of off the grid.” She said many are “struggling in silence” and is hoping to draw them out.
Heidi Peura, who works on homelessness and basic needs cases for AEOA, said she has helped more than 20 people in the past two months alone. She said more people are coming in based on “word of mouth” for help with rents and utility bills.
Coffey said she expects 200 or more people at the event.
Families and individuals can sign up for services from over 24 service providers, which include energy assistance, social security benefits, housing assistance, transportation assistance, food support, veterans services and more. There will also be free services at the hall, including flu shots, vouchers for free dental cleanings, school items, and free health screenings. Look for free household items, groceries, gas cards, winter clothing and a free meal while supplies last.
Judging from the increased use this year at the Two Harbors and Silver Bay food shelves run by Second Harvest, there will; be plenty of people at the event. Second Harvest will have an informational booth along with other social service agencies in the county.
About 50 volunteers are needed for the event. As of Tuesday, about 28 had signed up, Coffey said.
“We couldn’t pull this off without the great support of the area communities,” Coffey said. “From religious organizations to businesses, everyone has either donated funds, time, or both to help those in need right here in Lake County.”
North Shore Horizon has already served 385 people in 2009, the amount of people it served all of last year. “We have a few months to go yet,” Coffey said.
There is great need and a great realization of that need in the response to Community Connect, Coffey said. “There’s been a lot of good feedback.”
A helping hand
Sponsors for the Thursday “Community Connect” event include:
Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation
Social Leaders Area Network
North Shore Federal Credit Union
United States Census
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Two Harbors Legion
Co-op Light and Power
Two Harbors Lions Club
North Shore Oil and Propane
Super One Foods
Silver Creek Signworks
Julie’s Variety and Hardware
Lake County 4-H
The Lake Bank
The Harbor Center
If you go
Lake County Community Connect
- 1-6 p.m., Reunion Hall, Silver Bay
- For more information or to volunteer, contact Beth Peterson at (218) 749-2912, ext. 284.
- AEOA will be offering free bus service to and from the event. Service will be offered in Silver Bay, Two Harbors, Brimson, Finland and Isabella. Sign up by calling AEOA at (800) 223-1850, ext. 100.
- Community Connect is a joint effort between Lake County Human Services, North Shore Horizons, North Shore Collaborative, AEOA, Bay Area Vineyard Church and Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans.