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Hmmhh, What Does a Veteran Look Like?

[Community Lifeline Center is highlighting its veterans programs throughout the month of May.]  

Quick: picture a veteran and what comes to mind? A strapping, square-jawed combat ready Marine? A female naval officer in her starched summer white uniform? Or, perhaps a wheelchair-bound 80 year old with a Pearl Harbor baseball cap? 

Veterans come in all sizes, shapes, genders, and ages; and, a great many come to Community Lifeline Center looking for help. Like the female veteran with two children under the age of two, requesting food; an older man with no front teeth asking for dental help; a young man whose wife just left him asking for advice on which way to turn. Veterans whose perfect service records provide no guarantee they will succeed in civilian life or protection if they don’t. 

But, they do have a couple of things in common: they’re all veterans and they all heard that someone at Community Lifeline Center could help them. Thankfully, they heard right! 

Megan Hickman, MSW

 

Community Lifeline Center’s Veteran Program extends a wide range of services to veterans, dependents, and surviving spouses in the CLC service area. The program is funded through a grant from the Texas Veterans Commission. According to Megan Hickman, MSW, Veterans Case Manager at CLC, the veterans seen have been from all wars, and all time periods: “Their military experience covers a wide range of time and experience, but what’s most needed from all the Veterans we see are financial aid and employment”. 

After reviewing each need, prioritizing and writing an action plan with each client, Megan is able to commit to financial and educational commitment for the veteran while they share a goal of finding employment through various resources in the community. When asked what the most rewarding part of her job has been, Megan quickly responded: “Allowing someone to focus on overcoming other issues, either mental or physical, by decreasing their financial worries.” 

Interested in helping veterans? 

There are three actions you can take: 1) Donate further funding for our Veterans; 2) Employ veterans or their spouses; 3) Assist in creating awareness of the needs of Veterans and their families.  Need to know more?  Contact us at Community Lifeline Center, 972-542-0020 or at www.communitylifeline.org

Always Better Together!

One of my favorite things I have the pleasure of doing each month is sharing a mission’s moment at the beginning of each board of directors meeting. This allows me the opportunity to share a story as well as speak to the mission of the organization. This particular story comes directly from one of our Case Managers, Delphia Adeogun. She faithfully serves our families and is a good steward of the TXU Energy Aid funds. For every $1 donated, TXU Energy contributes approximately $5 and returns 100% of the funds to the local communities to help someone pay their electricity bill. Community Lifeline Center is one of their community partners!

I met with one who arrived at CLC requesting assistance with her rent and TXU electric bill.  When I sat down with this client, I expected to hear the more familiar short term crisis story, but the minute she opened her mouth it was clear that this wasn’t the “typical” situation. She and her husband are raising a young son; he works full time, and she cares for the special needs child as a stay-at-home mother. She reported that one night her husband heard a noise outside and went out to investigate.  When he got outside, he witnessed a burglar attempting to break into the driver side of his pick-up truck.  It being the family’s only source of transportation, he confronted the thief in an attempt to chase him off, but instead he was stabbed in the process. The police and ambulance service were called. He is expected to recover, but he was still in the hospital when this interview took place. The stabbing isn’t the only issue this family has to face.  While it is the most important, she doesn’t have the luxury to concentrate solely on her husband’s recovery.  She has to figure out how the rent and utility bills will be paid until her husband can return to work.  I listened, and we talked about some things she can do now to make a difference. She was encouraged to begin her job search with Texas Workforce for a part time job position and will cut all her unnecessary expenses.  CLC was able to give her some breathing room by assisting her with a partial payment of her rent and her entire TXU Energy bill. Delphia Adeogun, Case Manager

One of our favorite sayings around the office is “always better together” and with the partnership of TXU Energy through their Energy Aid Fund we joyfully shout “Always Better Together”  and invite  you  to become a Lifeline Friend.

Help. Hope. Here.
Make a difference today!

Christine Hockin-Boyd
Executive Director

Easter Greetings!

Trying to make a small difference when I can

That’s what Community Lifeline Center Case Manager Delphia Adeogun said when asked why she decided to work in the non-profit arena. That and “loving to work with the community” are what drive her to serve individuals and families in crisis. Delphia’s job is to meet with clients during the intake process to determine, first, if they qualify for services. CLC has a rigorous screening process to ensure help and support get to the deserving. Once clients are qualified for assistance, an extensive interview takes place. 

It’s during the interview process that Delphia’s degree in Psychology, and extensive management experience pay dividends, as she works with clients to develop a self sufficiency plan. Care is taken to identify the crisis, and develop alternative solutions. “I attempt to give each client a new perspective,  a different way of looking at a situation. I also provide needed resources and referral information that may be of further assistance for each client,” she notes. 

When asked to describe the people she serves Delphia says that individuals and families of all ages and genders come to CLC, but that very often it is families with young children, and even more often women with small children.  And these families face a variety of issues. “A crisis varies from client to client,” she says, “For one client it may be a reduction in work hours or a job loss, for another an unexpected car repair, an unexpected death in the family requiring the mortgage and utility money to be used for the funeral service. The crisis of a recent job loss can snowball very quickly and before you know it the rent and utilities are due again”.

“I met with a young father of four who arrived at Community Lifeline overwhelmed and confused, not knowing what to do next. His wife had abandoned the family taking along with her half of the household income. He was now faced with all the responsibilities of raising the children which was not what he expected when he got married. He worked full time but had not been on the job that long. He was reliant on his wife’s income as well as her assistance in seeing the children off to school and receiving them at the end of the day. During our interview we were able to develop a self-sufficiency plan which included ways to resolve the school drop-off/pick-up issue and a budgeting plan that cut any unnecessary expense to insure his more needed bills were covered monthly by his new income”.

Community Lifeline Center serves Veterans through a grant from the Texas Veterans Commission. Although Delphia focuses on the traditional, “non-veteran” cases, the issues are more often than not the same: “…a “hiccup” in their lives, a short term crisis. We provide them with education, finance that can be a bridge from point A to point B, as well as prescription assistance. Guiding a client back to self-sufficiency is our goal, it doesn’t always have to be financial, it all depends on the need and the available resource that may best fit each situation”.

Delphia has seen a lot of the world having been born in Belize and raised in California. She moved to Fairview in 2006, by way of Wisconsin. She was a stay at home mom until she joined CLC as a volunteer case worker in 2009, which evolved to a staff position in 2010. While she gives 100% to the clients she counsels, she’s learned to leave that behind at the end of the day because “….I must also be 100% present when at home – raising two daughters requires no less”.

But, what clients and colleagues alike discover in working with Delphia is her focus and genuine concern for those in the midst of crisis. During a time when those in need are most vulnerable and exposed, she is their lifeline: “I try to be a non-judgmental listening ear”, she says.

Delphia Adeogun adds special meaning to the Community Lifeline Center promise of “Help. Hope. Here.

Show Your Support – Wear Red!

An amazing morning celebrating “Red Shirt Fridays” with our wonderful Community Lifeline Friends from Town Square Buzz Foundation. The City of McKinney proclamation to wear red every Friday in honor of our veterans was given along with special guest, Congressman Sam Johnson, with a congressional proclamation. Truly was a humbling morning. Wear Red!
View video highlights

Christine Hockin-Boyd
Executive Director

Community Lifeline: Up Close and Personal

Community Lifeline Center’s ability to serve those in need rests heavily on the financial support of people in the community: individual donors willing to help those in crisis. In order to ensure the vast majority of that support actually goes to those in need, Community Lifeline keeps paid staff to a minimum, and costs carefully controlled.

Which means Community Lifeline depends greatly on the willingness of volunteers and our Board of Directors to donate time, money, and energy to the mission. Indeed, those in need – and the entire community – are indebted to a few good souls who serve asking nothing in return. It’s a pleasure to introduce some of them to you over the course of the coming year, starting this week with Robert Camp, Senior Vice President of Independent Bank, and President of the Community Lifeline Center Board of Directors.

He’s been a Community Lifeline Center Board member for three years, and President since 2010. As he likes to say, “I joined the Board in January of 2010.  Shortly after I joined, Rex Redden, who was serving as the President of CLC at that time, took a job in Carrolton and had to step down.  I think by default I was then asked to replace him, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise”.

The blessing part came in the form of his introduction to Executive Director Christine Hockin-Boyd at a Volunteer Recognition event in 2009 “From the very beginning, I was – and still am -impressed with Christine and her passion for the organization and her heart for others”, he adds. “As I like to tell potential board members and supporters of the organization, CLC is on the ‘front lines’ when it comes to trying to help the citizens of McKinney and the surrounding areas we serve. On a daily basis, the employees and volunteers are trying to address unfortunate circumstances in a caring and professional manner to allow people to gain back their dignity and hope.  I can’t think of a better place to serve and support our community”.

And, while it’s often assumed that organizations like Community Lifeline Center are supported by government funding, he reminds that “…both the city and county continue to have their own funding issues. We currently only receive a small portion of our budget from these entities to help fund the organization’s programs. We can’t rely on any one source for funding, so we have to continue to build relationships with individuals, churches, companies, other non-profit organizations, and local government agencies to collectively meet the needs of our community”. As to the Board’s role in all this, Robert says it’s to “…support the Director and work with her to set the direction of the organization through planning, setting strategies and goals, and – most importantly – to then implement them. In addition, the Board is ultimately responsible for the financial well-being of the organization.

When asked how Independent Bank feels about the effort he puts into Community Lifeline, he notes:  “Fortunately, I work for a company that also recognizes this need and encourages its employees to get involved.  The Bank has programs in place to match employee contributions to non-profits up to a certain dollar amount and provides financial assistance to organizations where its employees are volunteering their time”.

He is currently leading the organization through a period of significant change, as the service footprint grows to embrace the continued needs of local families in crisis, as well as the recent Texas Veterans Commission grant to serve Veteran needs. Meeting those needs has not only put added strain on human and financial resources, but on facilities as well. The pressures to serve more, and more completely, have made the development of a clear vision and mission statement an essential part of the2012 plan, along with new and creative ways to generate awareness and funding. Robert’s focus is on surrounding Community Lifeline with a Board of Directors, volunteers, and supporters who bring energy and passion to the mission. As he says, “Over the past few years we’ve somewhat adopted the phrase ‘together we are better’. I firmly believe this is true and will ultimately allow us to reach more people in need”.

Charity is Personal and Local

2011 ended on a gracious note for Community Lifeline Center. As December came to a close there was a real and palpable concern about how the needs of the community – as well as the needs of the organization – would be met. But, last minute reimbursements and donations arrived [one substantial gift from someone whose generosity is exceeded only by their wish for anonymity], so Community Lifeline Center was able to help families over the holidays and into the New Year. 

We enter 2012 cautiously encouraged by the gains made in the past couple of years, recognizing that those in real need have not yet felt the strong shoulder of improved circumstance. This is certainly not unique to the communities CLC serves, but a national reality. A recent study of 2011 nonprofit fundraising suggests 2012 will be a challenging year. Some of the national findings: 

  • No matter how large the nonprofit, the sector they served, or their geographic location, 65% reported an increase in demand for their services in 2011 Vs the prior year.
  • At the same time, nearly 60% of nonprofit organizations reported their 2011 fundraising results were lower, or the same as 2011.
  • Smaller organizations were most likely to experience reductions in fundraising revenue in 2011

Support and service groups like Community Lifeline Center are all under pressure to do more, with less. And, for the most part, they do. Community Lifeline was able to help thousands of individuals and families in 2011 – more than 450 every month – manage an unexpected crisis: provide financial assistance, job and life skills training, and serve as their advocates. While there were occasional bouts of uncertainty, the CLC mission was enabled by the gracious support of our church partners, the most generous support of the Texas Veterans Commission, the City of McKinney, and local companies.

But, most of all – as is often the case in human services – it was the generous support of the people in this community that ensured the momentum of the CLC mission. The checks that began arriving in December – large, medium and small – served as testament to the goodness and graciousness of the community in which we live.

If you visit the CLC website you’ll find these words:” Community Lifeline Center exists because a community stands tallest when it kneels to offer a helping hand.”  Those who support Community Lifeline don’t care because they give: they give because they care.

Giving is very personal. And very local.

Christine Hockin-Boyd
Executive Director

Stuart J.’s Lens: Video Tales of Small Business Highlights Community Lifeline Center

 

Because of a simple belief…those who sacrifice their own time and money to help those in need

Maybe there’s  a little bit of “ veteran” in all of us. 

Friday, November 11 is Veterans Day. 

Words like “duty and honor” come to mind when we think about veterans.  Even if we don’t know a veteran personally, our support of them is universal as we celebrate the values they represent. We admire the way they put themselves in harm’s way, and how they subordinate individual needs for the needs of the group:  we celebrate their sacrifices.

But, there are other veterans who deserve our recognition.

For example, Community Lifeline Center volunteers who – for  want of nothing more than an occasional thank you – spend hours and hours welcoming those in need and keeping the office running. Case managers who have the difficult task of telling some they do not qualify for assistance, and the even more challenging task of telling those who do what the limits of that assistance are. And, volunteers who work on grants and fund raising events to fund services, and teach job search, computer skills, and how to manage a household budget.

Men and women who sacrifice their own time and money to help those in need, because of a simple belief that those who can should share with those who can’t; those who have, should share with those who have not.

And, then there are the clients: the men, women, and children in need.

Like the mother unexpectedly forced to manage a family alone, and willing to make whatever sacrifice is required to keep her family in their home: taking classes, learning computer skills, accepting donations of food and services to buy time in order to start fresh.  Or, a father who has proudly been sole provider for his family, successful in his work, respected in his community, but suddenly faced with job loss. Old and young men who are no strangers to sacrifice, but whose sense of honor is replaced with a sense of desperation, but whose sense of duty is unwavering.  Or a senior, who believes that asking for help is unseemly, or a sign of weakness; a senior unable to keep the heat and lights on, or get a prescription filled, but who wants others in need to be taken care of first.

Our armed forces veterans represent the best in all of us. And, we rightly celebrate them on Veterans Day. But, there are quiet acts of honor, duty, and sacrifice going on all around us. And, in no way does it diminish our regard for our veterans to point out that many of the qualities they represent can be found everywhere, and every day at Community Lifeline Center.

Meet the CLC Caseworker

Before October, 2009, the Executive-Director of the Community Lifeline Center, Christine Hockin-Boyd, was at the helm of a boat without a crew.  She was trying to manage everything at the Center – development, grant writing, public relations, casework, long-range planning, coordination with other service providers – you name it.  Dedicated  to getting the Center back on solid ground, she was struggling to be in the community at the same time that clients needed to confer with her in the office on N. Kentucky Street. 

Delphia Adeogun, a trained case worker, walks on board and offers to volunteer.  The Director was relieved and welcoming, assuming that Delphia wanted to help out one day a week like many volunteers are able to do.  Imagine Christine’s joy when Delphia said she wanted to help daily.

 Delphia is so effective that she was officially hired as part-time caseworker when the position became funded by a grant.  She will be on staff until February, 2012.  By then, hopefully, additional funding will have been obtained so that position can continue.  She and the Executive-Director are the only paid staff; all other help at the CLC is volunteer. 

Delphia’s empathy for clients is evident.  During a recent visit, she asked me what I’d do if my adult child or my spouse suddenly lost a $100,000 a year job and could no longer make the mortgage payment.  One circumstance that obviously distresses Delphia is the need for transportation that many of the CLC clients have.  If they can’t get to work, how can they get and keep a job?  Many rely on C-Cart, but it doesn’t always get them where they need to go. 

When asked how she sleeps at night after hearing so many accounts of north Collin County residents’ crises, Delphia admits that she didn’t for a long time.  She said she used to “take those folks home in my head.”  Now, she’s learned to cope with their stress so that she can enjoy her family – two youngsters – when she gets home. 

Delphia and Christine obviously work together well.  Delphia admires and emulates Christine’s ability to be “straight forward when she has to be.”  They enjoy one another’s company as well.  During their lunch breaks, they are learning from a volunteer how to crochet and knit.  Perhaps that lunch-time fun is another reason Delphia’s learned not to “take folks home in her head.”

written by Linda Wilcox