The Ohio Benefit Bank Newsletter August 2009

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Registration for the 2009 Ohio Benefit Bank
Community Meeting and Training is now FREE.

If you have already paid, your registration charge will automatically be refunded in full and your registration will still be valid. No action on your part is needed.

NEW THIS YEAR - We will be offering continuing professional education units for social workers, professional counselors and marriage & family therapists.

This year's event is at the Crowne Plaza North Hotel in Columbus. The event is intended for OBB Counselors, OBB Site Administrators, and OBB Program Partners. This year's keynote speaker is Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and author of the book, All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America?.  Joel is a nationally recognized leader in the fields of hunger and food security, national and community service, and technical assistance provision to faith-based and community organizations.

Workshops will focus on a variety of topics such as policy simplification, marketing your agency's message through social networking tools, expanding and strengthening your OBB network within your community, customer service, and a three part grant writing series, among others.

For more information AND to register, please visit

CRCSite Spotlight: Correctional Reception Center

The Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) at The Correctional Reception Center (CRC) has been in operation for more than a year. Several volunteers have been specially trained as OBB counselors to complete applications for food assistance, medical benefits, and prescription assistance for inmates upon their release from prison. Applications are also completed for inmate families, where family members can also take advantage of these Benefits. CRC completes on average more than 60 applications monthly. The vast majority of inmates being released from CRC participate in the OBB program and receive benefits so desperately needed. The pilot Benefit Bank program began approximately one year ago at CRC and has become a highly visible, sought after and successful resource for inmates and their families.

Some statistics:
  1. OBB has achieved 100% outreach success to inmates at CRC.
  2. Processed 329 applications (food stamp) in 2009.
  3. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funds flowing into the state at current levels will exceed $1.5 million in annual allotments. As of June 30, 2009, the annual allotment of Food Stamp dollars is $821,604.
  4. In several cases, inmates were reconnected with Medicaid benefits.

This program is a stellar success. It provides critically needed support for inmates re-entering CRC OBB client sessionsociety. A major concern in re-entry is the ability of the inmate to obtain basic living needs (food, shelter). While no statistics are available, it is not unreasonable to assume that the service The OBB provides is a major reason inmates will not return to prison (they may of course return for other reasons, but not for survival ones). The mission of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections is to rehabilitate, and return inmates to society thus reducing recidivism.  This program is instrumental and vital in achieving this goal.

OBB Counselor Shawn Conrad  
WilmingtonSite Spotlight: The Wilmington United Methodist Church

Wilmington United Methodist Church has run an OBB site for the past year to help the people of Wilmington and Clinton County deal with the loss of DHL, the major employer for the county.  The loss of DHL has had a profound effect on the people of Clinton County, with up to 10,000 jobs lost.  In addition to DHL other businesses have had to close or lay off employees.  The Wilmington UMC OBB Site is located on Main Street.  Local businesses have stepped up to help with equipment for the site.  There are six workstations with computers and printers for counselors to use with OBB clients.  The area even includes a playroom to keep client's children occupied while the parents get assistance through the Ohio Benefit Bank.  The space also provides an area for training OBB counselors, and an internet café for the community to utilize for job searches.
Last month, WUMC brought on two AmeriCorps*VISTAs to help them in their  efforts to help the people of Clinton County.  Alex Ives and Annen Stuckert began their work with WUMC as volunteer counselors.  Their efforts will be focused on coordinating volunteers for the WUMC OBB site.  Alex will be able to train those volunteers as Ohio Benefit Bank counselors.  They will also being doing outreach in the Clinton County area to help educate people on the efforts of the Ohio Benefit Bank to fight poverty.  We welcome them on board and hope they both have successful terms of service as AmeriCorps*VISTAs! 

recruitOASHF Recruiting 30 AmeriCorps State Members

In June, OASHF was awarded 30 AmeriCorps State members by the Ohio Community Service Council.  We requested 20 members to be OBB counselors at sites around Ohio and 10 to assist in a variety of ways at our member foodbanks.  Now that all the sites have been selected, we are looking for 30 candidates interested in serving a year with their community. 

The positions are for a one year term.  Within this year, each member must complete 1700 hours of service, which does not include personal and/or sick time.  While serving in the program, members will receive a bimonthly, modest living allowance; health benefits; training opportunities; and upon successful completion of a service term, members are eligible for a $4,725 education award!  The application is available online: and a map of the sites around the state can be found here:

All positions begin September 1, 2009 and go until August 31, 2010.  If you have any questions regarding these opportunities, please contact Dustin Speakman at 614-221-4336.

CTsWelcome New Community Trainers!

The fourth year of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbank's AmeriCorps*VISTA program began in July, and with it, 17 AmeriCorps*VISTA Community Trainers began their year of service.  The new members completed the Ohio Benefit Bank Community Trainer training on July 24th and, over the next month, they will work closely with OBB Regional Coordinators to complete the practical Community Trainer requirements necessary to be certified.
The VISTA members are assigned to public, private and faith-based agencies around the state.  During their term of service they will train members of their community to use The Benefit Bank software and will work on initiatives to expand the capacity of their assigned agency.

New VISTA Trainers

In this photo (left to right): Savannah Turner, Kaitlyn Baker,  Alex Ives, Annen Vance Stuckert, Robert Fellows, Sarah Grace Harpster, Leslie Liedtke, Patricia Russo, Zach Rinker, Tara Pavlovcak, Sharon Loukas, Shelby Edwards, Samantha Flores, Michelle Lydenberg, Joree Jacobs, Danielle Gray, Robin Stears

FairOBB at the Ohio State Fair

This year, OASHF and The Ohio Benefit Bank partnered with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to host a booth at the Ohio State Fair.  OBB was fortunate to put The OBB Mobile Express on display in the booth. This was aimed at providing Fair Goers a more interactive experience with the OBB and to share with people our efforts to expand outreach capability to the farthest reaches of Ohio's communities.

Each year the ODJFS State Fair booth draws thousands of people with questions ranging from OBB at Fairunemployment to food assistance. OBB shares this booth to demonstrate the strong and vibrant partnership that exists between the two organizations and to reinforce the fundamental drive to reach those most in need by raising awareness of existing benefits, work supports and tax credits.  

This year 2000 people came through the OBB booth, 2300 pieces of  marketing was distributed and volunteers assisted 164 people through the Quick Check screening tool.

AmeriCorps*VISTA Member Danielle
at the Ohio State Fair
ComicEvan and Wyatt and the Magical, Dessert-Enlarging Pennywhistle
a comic strip by Charles Stough

Have you ever wished you could magically double the size of a great dessert? In Charley Stough's comic strip, a couple of kids use magical pennywhistles to do just that. Stough was a VISTA with OASHF in 2007-08 and now serves as an OBB Counselor for City Heart in Dayton.

Evan and Wyatt Comic

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