The Ohio Benefit Bank Newsletter September 2009

Conf2nd Annual OBB Conference Wrap-Up

After months of planning, the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks and The Ohio Benefit Bank delivered a fantastic education experience to a packed house of over 500 OBB Counselors and Program Partners from around Ohio at the 2nd annual, OBB Community Meeting and Training.

Joel Berg, Author and Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, delivered a passionate presentation on the current state of poverty and food security in America. Intertwined between humorous satires and deeply moving thoughts about the Human Condition, lay a message of change.  Mr. Berg's message was simple; from service provider to senator, much of Society label people in need as people not to be served. Ultimately, this clouded perception prevents authentic and meaningful change in policy and stops us from looking beyond the label of "welfare" and towards a future of hope and sustainability.
Workshops offered attendees opportunities to expand their awareness of current policy reforms in Ohio, marketing their Organization's message through social media tools, embracing customers through a unique approach to customer service, coping with clients in crisis, and an outstanding, three part work shop on finding, applying for, and managing grants.

This year, OASHF recognized several individuals and organizations for their outstanding work over the past year both as OBB service providers and program partners:

Site of the Year:
 Correctional Reception Center, Orient, Ohio
Counselor of the Year:
 John Rapp, Broadway United Methodist Church, Cleveland, Ohio
Neighbors Helping Neighbors Award:
  Community Action Committee of Pike County, Inc., Piketon, Ohio
Public-Private Partnership Awards:
 Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Office of Information Services
 Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Office for Families and ChildrenJohn Rapp recives his award

AmericCorps*VISTA of the Year: 
 Carlos Guajardo

OBB VISTA Summer Associate of the Year:
 Adam Zaleski

In this picture (left to right):
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Executive Director - OASHF,
John Rapp, 2009 Counselor of the Year - Broadway UMC, Jason Elchert, Director - OASHF,
Shannon Teague, OBB Director - GOFBCI

spotlightClient Spotlight: Amy, the new arrival
Charles Stough, OBB counselor, City Heart, Dayton

When her relationship with an abusive boyfriend ended, Amy, 23, moved with her two children from another city to Dayton. She and her new Job Center caseworker were confident that her food assistance benefits would easily transfer.

But being in a new town less than a month, the experience of  becoming a rental tenant with her own utility accounts was a big obstacle.

Amy learned about The Ohio Benefit Bank and HEAP. She was also amenable to letting a newly trained OBB counselor sit in during the application session at Christ Episcopal Church in Dayton. And because she had been briefed before the appointment about getting the landlord's approval for weatherization, she said her surprised landlord was more than delighted to cooperate and will refer other tenants to apply.

Then, to the surprise of everyone in the room, she answered one of the HEAP application questions with the news that she is expecting. She had just found out. She will of course report it to her caseworker and become a WIC client, but she smiled when she told her OBB counselors that her HEAP qualification took a tremendous weight off her shoulders in her time of troublesome changes in her life.

Tax2009 Taxes: Plan Early, Plan Big

Tax IconIt may seem like the distant future, or it may seem like you just finished with Taxes 2008, but this year's tax season will be here sooner than we know it.  October is the perfect month to start planning for Taxes 2009.  Now is the time to look at your site's training needs.  Do you need refresher training?  Do you need first-time tax training?  Contact your Regional Coordinator or VISTA Community Trainer to ask about tax trainings in your area. 

This is also a great time to start your tax season plan.  Are you planning on offering taxes on a daily basis, or are you planning on hosting a clinic - or several - this tax season?  Your Regional Coordinator is a great resource when you plan tax clinics.  She/he can offer ideas for any number of clinic elements such as location, hours, supplies, etc. 

Any seasoned tax counselor will tell you that the moment your site offers free tax assistance, you become the most popular place in town.  The sooner you plan for the upcoming tax season, the smoother your tax season will be.  In addition to a smoother tax season, early planning will give you the opportunity to plan bigger events and increase the scope of your tax site.  Your clients will thank you! 

OASHF VISTA 9-11 AmeriCorps Service ProjectSrvcProj

On service holidays, AmeriCorps members take a break from their regular duties and spend the day doing a project in their communities. This year, September 11th was declared a service holiday through the Serve America Act. To honor this, OASHF's AmeriCorps programs got to work on a project in Columbus, dubbed "Painting with A Passion".  They decided to help paint and clean up a disused convent in the Linden area of Columbus. The convent, which is currently occupied by a faith-based pantry and community group, is being transformed into transitional housing for low-income citizens and refugees.

HarvestCorps, which is our AmeriCorps State program composed of volunteer Benefit Bank counselors and other direct-support members, teamed up with SHARECorps, our existing AmeriCorps VISTA program. Together they were able to solicit over 30Service Project Group Photo0 dollars worth of paint and painting supplies for the event, as well as donations of food and drinks for the workers. On the day of the event, 63 volunteers took shifts working to clean up and paint the rooms to prepare them for their new residents. The event was a huge success, with 17 rooms and 2 hallways completely repainted. The first family was able to move into the facility in the following week. Thanks to our OASHF AmeriCorps members for all of their hard work!
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 Strip
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