As many as 800 to 1,200 households continue to be served each month by Samaritan Outreach Services, its director said this week.
Wade Hamilton told Hillsboro Rotarians that services provided through the SOS food pantry continue to be a major part of the organization’s outreach, but teaching basic economic and job-seeking skills is also important.
“They do not teach you to balance a checkbook in school,” said Hamilton. He said basic cooking skills are also in short supply – “If you can’t microwave it, it doesn’t exist,” he said – and teaching people how to write resumes is an important tool.
He said that five people recently took SOS’ resume writing class, and two of them got jobs quickly thereafter.
“There are little things you can do for people to help them get ahead,” said Hamilton at a meeting held at the Ponderosa Banquet Center.
Hamilton praised the way in which local agencies work together, which he said is not always the case in all communities.
“Our local social service agencies work together,” he said.
Hamilton said SOS is increasingly serving as a “one-stop” center to help people apply for Medicaid or food stamps, or help prepare tax returns.
He said the agency also took over the Toys for Tots program when no one else would operate the holiday outreach. Hamilton was introduced by Todd Barnes, a Hillsboro Rotarian who helps administer the Toys for Tots program.
Hamilton said some people think SOS’ food assistance is often helping those with addictions who will not work.
“We’re not handing out free food to the drug addicts of Highland County,” he said.
Samaritan Outreach Services was formed in 1989 by Jean Carson and her husband, the Rev. John Carson, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Hillsboro.
“They, along with Michael Maloney, organized religious and community leaders to discuss how best to meet human needs in face of scarce social services in Highland County,” according to the SOS website. “They worked with both the Episcopal Appalachian Ministries and the Catholic Social Services in Cincinnati to create Samaritan Outreach Services.”
The organization, which today is a standalone non-profit, also has a garden project that not only taught people how to grow food and be self-sustaining, but also resulted in clients bringing in food from their gardens to give to others, said Hamilton.
The SOS “Drive Against Hunger” golf scramble is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 15, at Valley Vista Golf Course near Bainbridge. Those interested in participating can find more information and register at www.ourpantry.org.
Hamilton said that last year’s 25th-anniversary gala was such a popular event that another gala will be held this year.
“A Night in Old Hollywood” fundraiser gala will be held Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Hillsboro Elks Ballroom. Tickets can be ordered at www.ourpantry.org or by calling 937-393-2220.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.