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CSS hires two to expand Benefit Bank services

Catholic Social Service (CSS) is making it easier for people who are facing financial dire straights to get a helping hand.
The CSS office in Great Bend has hired two part-time, temporary staff members -- Patty Sanders and Gabriela Moreno -- whose job it will be to help individuals obtain access to available financial help through the Benefit Bank system.

Through the CSS Benefit Bank program, individuals and families can learn if they are potentially eligible for financial assistance, health care, or food supplements. These are not hand-outs. They are benefits ready and waiting for those in need.
Sanders and Moreno will work out of the CSS office in Great Bend, and will travel to other locations where they will offer five-minute “pre-screens” to individuals seeking financial assistance.
“We will probably partner with other agencies, such as the Ford County Health Department, once or twice a month to do Benefit Bank,” said Patty McGurk of the Great Bend CSS office. They will also spend time at senior centers, health clinics, libraries, and even host booths at community events, such as the Cinco de Mayo celebration, to reach people who may be in need.
The pre-screening process includes a series of questions pertaining to jobs, income, and citizenship. After the information is gathered, Sanders or Moreno will plug the information into the Benefit Bank computer program at the at one of five sites in the diocese: the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dodge City; the CSS office in Dodge City; St. John the Apostle Church in St. John; the CSS office in Garden City; or the CSS office in Great Bend.
The Benefit Bank computer program will indicate almost immediately if the individual is potentially eligible for benefits, or if he or she is over-income.
Sanders and Moreno will then notify the individual of their results. If they potentially qualify for benefits, they will return for an hour-long session at one of the five Benefit Bank sites, during which Moreno or Sanders will lead them through the necessary documentation. That documentation will then be delivered to Social Rehabilitation Services for processing. The entire process is offered at no cost to the individual.
The new positions come as a result of a grant awarded to CSS from AmeriCorps, which each year offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. The grant requires the new employees complete 900 hours of service prior to July 31, 2010.
Both the CSS offices in Great Bend and Dodge City are currently awaiting confirmation that funding will be available from AmeriCorps for two additional, full time, temporary positions to be hired through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. Founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 and incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs in 1993, VISTA’s primary focus is in battling poverty.
These individuals would be responsible for organizing and initiating the Benefit Bank computer system at locations throughout the diocese, and for training volunteers to act as guides, helping individuals access financial aid through the system.  
If you are interesting in learning more about Benefit Bank, whether or not you qualify for financial aid through the Benefit Bank program, or if you are interested in the full time positions, contact either the Great Bend CSS office at  (620) 792-1393, or the Dodge City office at (620) 227-1562 or 1-800-222-9383.

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