Flint Street Fellowship launches utility, rent assistance fund
By Samantha Jones
Flint Street Fellowship is honoring its former director with a program that will meet a major need in the community.
New directors Donna Artzer and Paula Koch announced the Pat Kasner Assistance Fund, which launched on July 10. The fund will help qualified clients with utility and rent assistance as well as transportation to medical appointments.
"It's for critical needs people might need help with," Koch said.
Artzer said applications will be received on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from noon to 3 p.m. at Flint Street Fellowship at 33. N. Main in Eureka Springs. You have to call if you'd like to be eligible for the program, Artzer said.
"It can't be walk-ins," Koch said. "It has to be an interview scheduled in advance. Eventually, we will have a designated phone line just for that. That hasn't happened yet, but we'll let everyone know when it does."
"We're excited," Artzer said.
"We're very excited," Koch said.
Artzer said the program will expand Flint Street's outreach in the community.
"We've got working poor –– too many working poor in this community," Artzer said. "They can't make it from paycheck to paycheck. If an emergency hits, they have no funds. That's the gap we're going to try to fill."
When they spoke with community leaders about local needs, Koch said, it became apparent how Flint Street could help.
"It was pretty much utilities, utilities, utilities," Koch said. "If you've got a $300 bill and you've only got $75 you can pay towards it, we want to help you."
Since taking over in March, Koch said, she and the other directors have worked to expand the free clothing offered at the food bank. There are now two more racks of clothes, she said, and anyone can take anything they want for free.
"As far as we know, we're the only place in Carroll County that gives away free clothes," Koch said, "so that's a big change. Nothing has changed with the lunch program. Nothing has changed with the food distribution program."
Food distribution is on Mondays and Wednesdays, and hot lunches are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Koch said she didn't realize how good the food is until she took a bigger role at Flint Street.
"We give away three-pound bags of frozen blueberries, pork chops and other really good food," Koch said. "It's not like saltine crackers and some off-brand of soup. It's really good food and very well-balanced."
Flint Street is always accepting donations, including food and toiletries.
"We always need toilet paper," Artzer said. "We always need dishwashing soap and laundry soap and feminine hygiene products and diapers. The need is always there."
She added, "Diapers are expensive, so it is awesome when we can give a family enough diapers to last them four or five days depending on the age of the child."
Another new development, Koch said, is home delivery for those who are homebound.
"It's for people who have no transportation," Koch said. "We're going to see how it works out."
Flint Street is always looking for volunteers, Artzer said. She said there will be a fundraiser for the food bank on Sunday, Aug. 25, at Main Stage Creative Community Center where a local photographer will give away door prizes and showcase his art. A minimum donation of $10 is requested, and that includes refreshments.
"We are also coordinating with the churches on a fundraiser," Koch said. "We've given ourselves a big hill to climb, but when you see the level of gratitude the clients have, it makes every moment worth it."
"It does," Artzer said. "We have helped so many people. It's just amazing and they touch your hearts. You have to have a passion for this, and we do."
For more information, call Flint Street Fellowship at 479-253-9491.