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REACH program assists low-income residents

Area congregations are teaming up to give a boost to low-income people in the area.

The Alliance for Interfaith Ministries has expanded its REACH Program after a successful pilot.

Many of the participants will be low-income seniors already working with AIM in some capacity.

Many of those enrolled are also served in the Secure Seniors Program, which provides assistance to people who are 50 or older and are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“We’re trying to fill that gap so they can get services,” said Jean Bourbeau, AIM’s intake and volunteer manager.

The program pairs volunteers primarily with seniors in the community who lack family or other community support systems and are having difficulty meeting their needs.

REACH started about a year ago as a pilot through First Presbyterian Church, but has since expanded. Volunteers provide monthly deliveries of supplies to those enrolled. The packages include basic necessities like toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and food.

Bourbeau said many of the people the program serves may not be able to make rent payments because they’re on social security and can’t work because of health reasons.

The program is serving around 40 people and is continued through grants and funding through congregations associated with AIM.

Participants will also be provided a visitor who checks in over the phone and might make some of the deliveries. Some of the volunteers could meet and practice social distancing to give the seniors connections.

“These clients are frequently overwhelmed by systems that are not client-centric, yet they do not qualify for a governmental agency social worker or other agency intervention, and only find help after they are in crisis in a hospital or have become homeless,” AIM Director Kimberly Fontaine said.

Fontaine said the seniors typically don’t use social media and don’t follow the news so they’re unaware of many of the programs available in the area.

Fontaine gave the example of a 56-year-old veteran enrolled in the program who cannot make rent payments. Another client is a 61-year-old woman raising her 16-year-old granddaughter in an apartment where the woman can’t cover her rent through her social security.

AIM is still accepting volunteers for the program. Anyone who wants to be involved should call (434) 972-1704 and ask for Jean Bourbeau.


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