Meridian Cares Continues To Help Those In Need This Winter
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - To help families in need in Meridian Township, Meridian Cares was established in 1985 as a way for community members to help each other in times of need. With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, Meridian Cares has continued to help families in a variety of ways.
Darla Jackson, the Human Services Specialist for Meridian Township, said Meridian Cares is a way for the community to make sure that the people who live in it don’t fall through the cracks in the human services system, and right now there is an overwhelming demand for housing assistance.
“Trying to keep people in their housing right now is a bit of a challenge because of course there’s a pandemic, nobody wants to be evicted, and we’re seeing a lot more people than we have seen in the past, different people too,” Jackson said.
Last year Jackson said she assisted about 400 households, with 44 receiving financial assistance and the rest of the households were referred to the appropriate programs to meet their needs.
Jackson said another big challenge community members are facing is not knowing whether or not their utilities can be shut off this winter.
“I’ve had at least three phone calls over the last week where people don’t believe that their utilities could be shut off,” Jackson said. “It's about 15 degrees outside and I can assure you that even though it is that cold, they will shut your utilities off if you have a shut off notice, if they’ve given you warning, unless you do something about it.”
Jackson said the best thing to do if you don’t know where to start is to call 2.1.1, or to call her office at 517.853.4200, and she will find the resources to help anyone in need and get them assistance.
“I will see what resources are out there because part of it is just making sure people can get the assistance in time,” Jackson said.
Not only has Meridian Cares helped the community, but Jackson said the community support surrounding the program has been astounding and the assistance from the community has helped in a big way.
“We are very, very fortunate that we have this available,” Jackson said. “Sometimes there are people who don’t qualify for programs that are out there or the programs just don’t have as much assistance for them or somehow things don’t quite work out for people and we are able to step in and make sure that they are okay.”
To help families in need, community members can donate in many ways. Jackson said the best ways to help are to donate through the Meridian Cares PayPal at meridian.mi.us/meridiancares or follow the Meridian Cares Facebook account.
Jackson said any upcoming fundraising events have been put on hold for the time being.