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Requests for assistance on the rise
August 15, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
For almost two years, requests for assistance have been on the rise for community agencies that assist families in need of food sources – and the shortage is sometimes noticeable.

During a recent United Way of Western Nebraska board meeting, executive director Stephanie Black said she learned many of their member agencies struggle to meet needs and keep food on the shelves of their pantries.

“I was surprised there was so much need, especially this time of year,” Black said. “We all assume there’s more need in the winter months, but there have been a huge need for food, utilities and shelter. Homelessness is also a big problem.”

Black said a lot of the people that request assistance are not repeat users, but people who have fallen on hard times and need help. “Most of the service agencies have told me they’re serving people who haven’t been there before. It just might be a sign of the times as we seem more and more people in need of those services.”

Pam Bowen with the Guadalupe Center in Scottsbluff said they often see more people during the summer months because the weather is nicer and many of them are on foot.

“Over the past year-and-a-half, we’ve been seeing more people who haven’t been in before,” Bowen said. “We give them enough food to last a few days, but they can only come in every three months.”

Gary’s Carpet Cleaning and First National Bank have both helped organize food drives for the Guadalupe Center recently. Their pantry is also assisted by the parish of St. Agnes Catholic Church.

“I would think the increased need is partly due to the economy,” she said. “The lack of education and the ability to get a job or a car also factor into that. Because we get so much foot traffic, we know these people don’t life far from here.”

She said Gary’s, along with the Riverside Discovery Center, organized a canned food drive over the summer and will do another this Saturday.

Hilary Wasserberger, executive director of the DOVES program, said she’s seeing an increased need for all of their services. “Our food pantry is almost empty at this point, so we’re desperately in need of donations,” she said. “We served almost 100 families in July alone.”

Founded in 1979, the DOVES Program provides support to victims of domestic violence in Scotts Bluff County. Since that time, the program has grown to assist victims of dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking as well.

“Since about the middle of June through July, we gave out about 70 bags of food, hygiene and household items,” Wasserberger said. “All of your services are really in demand and we’re really thankful for the community donations we receive.”

She added that nonperishable food items are most useful to the program right now.

Black said a lot of the people that request assistance are not repeat users, but people who have fallen on hard times and need help. “Most of the service agencies have told me they’re serving people who haven’t been there before. It just might be a sign of the times as we seem more and more people in need of those services.”

Pam Bowen with the Guadalupe Center in Scottsbluff said they often see more people during the summer months because the weather is nicer and many of them are on foot.

“Over the past year-and-a-half, we’ve been seeing more people who haven’t been in before,” Bowen said. “We give them enough food to last a few days, but they can only come in every three months.”

Gary’s Carpet Cleaning and First National Bank have both helped organize food drives for the Guadalupe Center recently. Their pantry is also assisted by the parish of St. Agnes Catholic Church.

“I would think the increased need is partly due to the economy,” she said. “The lack of education and the ability to get a job or a car also factor into that. Because we get so much foot traffic, we know these people don’t life far from here.”

She said Gary’s, along with the Riverside Discovery Center, organized a canned food drive over the summer and will do another this Saturday.

Hilary Wasserberger, executive director of the DOVES program, said she’s seeing an increased need for all of their services. “Our food pantry is almost empty at this point, so we’re desperately in need of donations,” she said. “We served almost 100 families in July alone.”

Founded in 1979, the DOVES Program provides support to victims of domestic violence in Scotts Bluff County. Since that time, the program has grown to assist victims of dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking as well.

“Since about the middle of June through July, we gave out about 70 bags of food, hygiene and household items,” Wasserberger said. “All of our services are really in demand and we’re really thankful for the community donations we receive.”

She added that nonperishable food items are most useful to the program right now.

People will often think of organizing a big food drive or other fundraiser during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. But Black said need knows no season. She encouraged people to host events during the summer months as well to help out local agencies as they assist people in need throughout the community.

People will often think of organizing a big food drive or other fundraiser during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. But Black said need knows no season. She encouraged people to host events during the summer months as well to help out local agencies as they assist people in need throughout the community.
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