Non-profit provides funds to aid local families in need
A 33 percent decline in donations plagued the Medical Lake Community Outreach last year, severely limiting its ability to provide help for residents in the city and surrounding areas.
“We help people who can’t pay their water bill or are about to get their power disconnected,” treasurer Joyce Callaway said.
When a family isn’t able to meet their monthly utility bill, Outreach is able to speak directly to utility companies and lend some assistance.
“We work on their behalf to try and negotiate with the power company, with the city, with the landlord,” president of the Outreach board Theresa Reisenauer said. “We have limited resources and we cannot pay someone’s $600 rent bill, but we can help with a piece of that.”
While Medical Lake residents receive the bulk of financial help, Outreach’s services extend throughout the West Plains, including families in Airway Heights.
In 2011, Outreach paid $16,223.98 to 249 individuals in 105 families. The numbers dropped a little last year due to the declining donations, falling to $10,286.71 given to 215 individuals in 68 families. Assistance given to families doesn’t cover full bills, but rather offers a bit of assistance in a time when it’s needed the most.
Last year, Outreach was able to help 145 clients in Medical Lake, 46 in Airway Heights and 24 from surrounding areas in the West Plains. The amount of clients helped in the city limits was slightly reduced, however Airway Heights and surrounding West Plains areas saw the most decrease in available help.
“We are here to help them help themselves to make whatever arrangements they need as well,” Reisenauer said.
Just this past month in January, Outreach was able to help 14 homes in Medical Lake and three in Airway Heights.
Outreach director Marilyn Yonkie’s position is funded each year by a grant from the Community Development Block Grant. There are also some minor insurance costs that come into play, but they vary from year to year and are only a fraction of the total funds spent.
Some of the clients that come to the outreach are wrapped up in a difficult situation — like having their power shut off — that they don’t think of other groups that could lend a hand. Other agencies, like SNAP in Spokane, could help with specific needs.
“So many of the people who come in for help, they’re so stressed out already,” Yonkie said.
Most of the funding for the organization comes from area churches, individuals and programs like the annual Medical Lake Tennis-a-thon.
Medial Lake Outreach started in 1989, founded by Spokane’s Sister Imogene Warren when she saw a need for financial services in the city. The program began to help low income, disabled and senior residents in the area that may be facing emergency situations like power shut off notices, evictions or medication needs.
Families seeking some help from Outreach must first qualify through a number of guidelines, including those from Housing and Urban Development. A family of four, for example, must quality regarding their income level with no more than $18,850.
The office, located at the Medical Lake Food Bank on 207 S. Washington St. in Medical Lake, is open Tuesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every week. For more information on the outreach, contact 299-3819.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.