Monday, May 22, 2006

Revisions to Salvation Army Grants

As it pertains to our work in Pearlington, I believe NOTHING until I see it parked in my driveway, on the loading ramp of the Pearl*Mart or in my pocket, half-spent. It is the only safe way to respect those we serve and to ensure that they get delivered exactly what we are able to provide.

Despite our very best efforts; despite meetings and queries, conversations and consultations with those apparently in-the-know, some further news comes to us today concerning the Salvation Army grants.

Firstly, the homeowner will be excluded if they have already received aid from the Salvation Army or any other relief organization, meaning either building materials or vouchers for building materials.

Bob Putnam reports from Pearlington:

"There was a slight misinterpretation on the Salvation Army grants that we (Mary, Wilf, Laurie and I) were not aware of until yesterday, when I was in Biloxi. The grants are for the work groups to provide materials for the homes that they are working on. So let’s say, Mr. Smith is doing the work on his home and doesn't require the help of any of the volunteer forces, but needs materials Technically, he does NOT qualify for the grant. Every indication to me and the others at the meeting was that they were for the homeowner. Also, any family that has gone to the Salvation Army for assistance and were given Lowes or Home Depot gift vouchers for building materials, are also disqualified from this grant process. [They are using CAN (Coordinated Assistance Network), which lists those who have received help elsewhere, upon which to base their decisions.]

It’s a bit disheartening that two weeks after briefing us on the grants, that the criteria has changed. While talking with the Director of the Salvation Army Disaster Services for Mississippi, I found out a few other things that didn't make sense. They have written and funded this grant to serve 600 families. So by doing the numbers, they have set aside $6 million out of their $155 million announcement for disaster relief. I got to check out their funding board and as of yesterday they only had 9 projects that were funded and 3 that are pending approval.

Major Vincent is going to come to next Thursday's meeting here at 6:30 p.m. We are trying to figure out exactly who has received help for materials. The CAN system has everyone that has signed up with FEMA, so I'm trying to get someone with access to the data bank to check out what they consider aid. UMCOR is offering up to $2500 in material assistance and we are going to use the people who have already gotten aid from Salvation Army or are close enough to moving in that they won't need the grant to attain materials. I am trying to figure where we can go outside this network, to get additional aid."

We are trying to find out about grants for the elderly for rebuilding. Hopefully, we'll have something to add to the grant information soon. We are finding that the elderly homeowner has been excluded from the grant process and access to Habitat, because of their low incomes. Bob will make some calls to his contacts at the American Association for Retired People to find what they may have in their pipeline.

We’ll keep you posted.


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