The Ohio Benefit Bank Newsletter October 2009
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In this issue

Gear Up Now for the Census 2010

Keeping a Good Thing Going

Report from OBB AmeriCorps*VISTA Members in Northwest Ohio

Site Administrators: Complete the Site Renewal

Client Spotlight: A Helper Finds Help

OBB at the Hancock County Fair

SaveTheDate CensusCensusGear Up Now for the Census 2010

The U.S. Postal Service will deliver census questionnaires to every resident by March 2010. 

While the return deadline of April 1, 2010 may seem like a long way off, now is the time to begin raising awareness about the importance of the Census with your agency board, staff and people you serve.
 
Census data is used to:

  - Distribute Federal, state and local funds. Based on the 2000 Census, Ohio received an estimated $13 billion in 2007;
  - Draw state and federal legislative districts;
  - Evaluate the success of programs or identify populations in need of services;
  - Help businesses determine where to locate; and
  - Help planners determine mass transit needs

Remember, your community will benefit from a complete count, just as it will suffer from an incomplete count. The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, as part of the YouCanCountonMe Coalition, will be contacting you soon to determine your Census information needs, and to offer ways your agency can participate in this important count of the population.
 
Let's all work together for the highest possible count!  Click here to learn how you can help Ohio bring in its fair share of federal dollars.
PICCAKeeping a Good Thing Going

The Pickaway County Community Action Organization (PICCA) is consistently a top-performer in the Ohio Benefit Bank network.  Also a VITA site, PICCA applied for multiple grants in 2007 to support their tax clinic.  In their first year, PICCA exceeded their goal of completing 100 returns, rounding out the year with more than 300 returns completed.  During the 2008 tax season PICCA completed 398 returns and assisted another 25 people with amended returns.  While staff members of the community action organization did a good amount of this work, PICCA also called upon a dedicated group of volunteers.  These volunteers completed returns at PICCA and at local community partner sites, including Kingston National Bank in South Bloomfield, a small town north of Circleville.  The PICCA model is one that utilizes different tools available in the community to serve the unique and diverse needs of the people. 

In 2009, Teresa Cramer joined the PICCA staff as the Ohio Benefit Bank Coordinator.  She is working in communities throughout the county to spread the word about OBB services.  She is also working closely with the OBB Mobile Express to bring tax and benefit assistance to remote locations and large community events, most recently the Circleville Pumpkin Show.  Teresa will also be supervising a member of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks' AmeriCorps State team, Lacey Elliot.  Lacey and Teresa will work together with PICCA's staff and faithful volunteers to spread the word about OBB throughout Pickaway County and to complete at least 400 tax returns.  The Ohio Benefit Bank is fortunate to work with PICCA and welcomes the energy and dedication of Teresa Cramer and Lacey Elliot. 

If you have questions about PICCA's work with the Ohio Benefit Bank please contact Teresa Cramer at (740) 477-1655, extension 316.

NWOReport from OBB AmeriCorps*VISTA Members in Northwest Ohio

During the past couple months, the VISTAs in Northwestern Ohio have been working inward and reaching outward for the Ohio Benefit Bank.  With many of them just beginning their year of service, they are working inward to build a foundation of knowledge and skills needed for the year.  Several of them are community trainers, striving to learn their jobs quickly so they can get started working with local agencies.  Other VISTAs are also getting settled into their placements, such as Andrea Migliozzi, who quickly learned a vast number of community resources available in Toledo, for her work with Toledo Area Ministries.
 
All of this learning has made them eager to reach outward and serve their communities with the Ohio Benefit Bank.  September began with the Hancock County Fair, where Shelby Edwards organized several VISTAs and OBB counselors to work at a booth.  Also in September, Sarah Grace Harpster worked with her organization, Lutheran Social Services, to offer quick checks during an orientation that brought many people through their doors.  Appointments were then made for these clients to complete their OBB applications at LSS.  They have all been busy with events, trainings, and developing new OBB sites, including one of the first sites in Wyandot County!  They are looking ahead at more opportunities to work inward and reach outward to do the most good during our VISTA year.

renSite Administrators: Complete the Site Renewal

Each year all sites are required to renew their Organization Agreement and update information collected on the Site Profile. This process ensures what is publicized on the Site Locator is accurate and the contacts and counselors listed are still active.
 
Emails have gone to all Site Administrators containing a link to a summary of previously collected information on your organization and its administrators, counselors, and report recipients. Edits can be made directly into the summary page. When the update is complete, click "submit site profile" to send the information to OBB Support Staff for review.
 
If you have questions or have not received your update link, please write to Suzanna Witte at suzanna@oashf.org

CSClient Spotlight: A Helper Finds Help
Charles Stough, OBB counselor, City Heart, Dayton

Marianne was among the most active church members of a Dayton congregation. A single woman with a full-time job, she always volunteered to participate in Sunday services and was active in club events, the annual weeklong fundraising lunch and flea market, and when the custodian was on vacation she took over the duties of maintenance and cleaning in the huge church, day care center, kitchen and dining room, meeting rooms and multiple restrooms.
  
That work wasn't easy, as the downtown church is an active walk-in aid site and the church has a busy roster of activities and classes seven days a week. It also shares one floor with another congregation on weekends. Marianne was one of the church's most reliable helpers.

Then Marianne's employer went out of business suddenly and she was jobless. Because she had already used The Benefit Bank at the church for tax preparation services, she knew where to get help when she needed it. In short order she and an OBB counselor put together an emergency food aid application and filed it electronically. Typical of her personality, she arrived with all her records and identification documents in good order and the application sailed through.

Marianne's job search continues, but in the meantime she is using her time to help others. And in return, the Ohio Benefit Bank made it possible her to help her in return.

Please send OBB client stories to Charles Stough at copyboy@sbcglobal.net
FairOBB at the Hancock County Fair

Fair VolunteersThis year the Ohio Benefit Bank teamed up with Hancock County 2-1-1 Referral Service to hold an informational booth at the Hancock County Fair from September 2nd through the 7th. The booth was staffed throughout the week by 3 OBB volunteer counselors, two United Way of Hancock County staff members and three AmeriCorps*VISTA members.
 
The goal was to get information about the services the OBB provides to the residents in Hancock county. Over 350 brochures, 215 fans, and 150 flyers were distributed. The biggest day was Senior Day, hundreds of Hancock County seniors were able to learn about the public benefits and tax credits available to them.

Pictured Above: Michael Blinn, OBB Counselor and Emily Rump, Hancock Co. 2-1-1
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