Proposed resource center would serve whole community

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By Janet Robb

TELL CITY - A community resource center could be on the horizon to help those in need in Perry County.

Beginning in late April, the 4Community2 partners gathered to discuss how to better serve the Perry County community.

The partners include United Way of Perry County, Catholic Charities, Perry County Memorial Hospital, Lincoln Hills Development Corp. and Perry County Community Foundation.

Out of that came the idea of creating a social services community resource center that could house several programs including food pantry, clothing closet, micro lending, youth programs and more.

County organizations met at Evangelical United Church of Christ Thursday evening to give their input and to see if this could become a reality.

United Way Director Rebecca Fenn said they have an opportunity receive a 4Community2 grant from the Indiana Association of United Ways to fund the project.

The topic most committee members felt strongly about was helping those in need, said Luz Moskos with the Perry County Community Foundation.

With this grant cycle, she told the audience, they want to use it to help those in need. The committee came up two phases to accomplish this. The first would be to create a centralized food pantry. Moskos said the idea would be to support what's already here, not to combine or change what is already working. "We want to strengthen what we already have," she reiterated.

Once that was created, Moskos said the group envisioned expanding services by adding a clothing closet to help people find appropriate clothing for interviews, micro lending for someone who needs to replace an item like a washer but doesn't have the money and providing life skills training.

"We don't want to duplicate, just want to strengthen and support what's here," she said again.

Jackie Colucci with Perry Central Community Schools asked if the resource center would just be in the southern part of the county or if it would travel. It's not convenient for the public in the northern part of the county if it's based in Tell City, she said.

It's a dream to have a mobile resource center, even if it is just a laptop and cell phone, Joan Hess with Catholic Charities said.

"We want to make it accessible to as many Perry County people as possible," she said, adding that it would probably be centralized in the southern part of the county because that's where most of the population lives.

Gene Recker of Recker Consulting asked those in attendance what they liked about the proposal. Several people liked the idea of a networking system to keep track of what services the public has received and the ability to enhance current programs, not change them.

There were many roadblocks the group also saw including individual agencies not coming together and being fearful of losing their own funding. Government regulations including zoning and building codes would come into play for a building.

Beth Stein urged the group that with this project, they need to create and encourage independence and interdependence not dependence.

Cannelton Elementary School Principal Ginger Conrad said she would like to see children be educated on how to be self-sufficient so they don't continue the cycle their parents may be in.

At the end of the meeting Fenn said they plan to hold community listening sessions and seek out people who might participate in the resource center. "We want to try to reach the clients and ask them what they want to see," she said.