The Ohio Benefit Bank Newsletter December 2009

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In this issue

The OBB Direct Service Office Partners with Local Agencies to Help Refugees

More Applications for SCSEP Are Needed!

Site Spotlight: City of Kettering

Capacity Building Grants Now Available

OBB Launches Power User

Site Spotlight: West College Hill Neighborhood Services

Evan and Wyatt, a Comic Strip by Charles Stough
refugeThe OBB Direct Service Office Partners with Local Agencies to Help Refugees

The Direct Service Office has been at the center of a recent collaboration between the Ohio Benefit Bank, the Franklin County Department of Job & Family Services and two Central Ohio agencies serving refugees newly arriving to the United States-the Community Refugee Immigration Services (CRIS) and U.S. Together. A refugee is someone who has fled his or her country because of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion. Refugee from the Immigration and Nationality Act

Agencies like CRIS and U.S. Together work to connect the refugee to services such as interpretation, shelter, school enrollment and applications for public assistance. Through the enhanced pilot project the Direct Service Office is able to work with the authorized representative from CRIS or U.S. Together to apply, scan and submit documents and facilitate the telephone interview. Over the past two months they have served over 65 families through this process and connected this highly vulnerable population to services that meet their basic needs.  For more information on the Refugee Assistance available in Ohio, visit

SCMore Applications for SCSEP are needed!

In the recent Omnibus Bill, Congress allocated an additional $225 million for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)! The funding will be distributed to states with the highest need; those states with most SCSEP applications. 
The more SCSEP applications completed, the more money can be allocated to the state of Ohio for SCSEPthis valuable program.  Applications for SCSEP are available on The Benefit Bank.  The program provides PAID job training for older people (aged 55 and older) whose income is 125% of FPIG. 

Click here for a flyer with basic information for seniors interested in applying for SCSEP. 

Click here for a flyer with basic information for OBB sites who want to know more about SCSEP. 
Questions? Contact Danielle Gray at or 614-221-4336.
kettSite Spotlight: City of Kettering
Vickie Carraher, OBB Counselor, City of Kettering

The City of Kettering city manager's office is a busy Ohio Benefit Bank site that has helped many clients who are elderly, as well as many younger suburbanites who are pressed by the poor economy.
Kettering publishes a regular newspaper for city residents as well as producing a cable TV show, "Kettering Connection," both of which stir client interest in OBB. Word of mouth is also a big draw. The city, a suburb of Dayton, has several trained OBB counselors.

HEAP is a leading program among Kettering residents, but emergency food assistance has growing importance because of a long backlog with the area's Meals on Wheels program. Elderly clients also call on the site for help getting Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" subsidies.

"It's sad to see people who have run out of their unemployment compensation and extensions," said Vickie Carraher, OBB counselor, who works out of the city manager's office. "Often they have college degrees but can't find jobs and their homes are in foreclosure."  She said she is particularly saddened by clients who don't ask for help until their personal finances are in deep trouble, as well as occasional clients who aren't accustomed to asking for help, no matter how bad their situations.

Kettering's counselors are scheduled for OBB tax-preparation training and look forward to assisting clients with that burden soon too.

grantCapacity Building Grants Now Available
applications due January 8th

The Ohio Benefit Bank in partnership with the Governor's Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives is pleased to announce the availability of Ohio Benefit Bank Tax Assistance Capacity Building Grants.
Grants of up to $25,000 will be provided to build the capacity of organizations to serve Ohioans with free tax assistance.  Grantees must expand existing OBB Tax Assistance and FAFSA services OR develop NEW OBB Tax Assistance and FAFSA services within their organization or community.

For a complete set of instructions and forms in PDF click here.
To access the Tax Assistance Capacity Building Grant Instructions, RFP and Budget Form please click the link below:

The due date for applications is January 8, 2010.

Direct questions to Erin Sprouse, or Jason Elchert,

PowerOBB Launches Power User

PowerUser ImageLast week, The OBB made a faster version of the software available to counselors - Power User.  Power User utilizes drop-down menus and condensed screens, allowing counselors to move through modules more rapidly and complete applications in a shorter amount of time.

For detailed information on Power User click here.

If you are a current counselor and wish to become a Power User, complete and submit the application, available through the link below:  When approved your counselor permissions will be updated to allow access to the Power User version.

If you have questions regarding Power User please write to

westSite Spotlight: West College Hill Neighborhood Services

West College Hill Neighborhood Services is located in Cincinnati. They provide a wide array of services for clients in the College Hill area. They are a senior center, food pantry and computer lab. The pantry distributes about 50,000 pounds of food in a year. The computer lab is open for community use. This lab has computers, high speed internet, and fax machines that clients can use. A volunteer social worker also helps clients gain access to benefits. The organization does a great job of providing services for many difficulties that low-income Ohioans face.

West College Hill Neighborhood Services became a part of the Ohio Benefit Bank since it's inception in late 2006. The organization was part of a church coalition where they learned about the Ohio Benefit Bank and all that it could offer. And now, with 5 counselors, they are headed into their 4th tax season!

Thanks for all that you do West College Hill Neighborhood Services. Keep up the great work!

EvanEvan 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 & Wyatt Comic
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