How to Find Community Resources

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You may have heard recently about some changes in the way to find information on community resources.  Lenawee Community Foundation provides information to people who call us, and publishes the Lenawee County Resource Guide.  This guide is in the Resources section of our website www.lenaweecf.com.  We also email this guide upon request, and provide printed copies that our local nonprofits, schools, police & fire personnel, and other organizations and individuals utilize.

Call Someone Concerned, was the nonprofit that provided this service in the early 1990’s.  They answered calls 24/7, however this agency received very few calls after normal business hours, and most overnight calls were someone who couldn’t sleep, and just wanted someone with whom to talk. When the call volume and revenues declined, this service was transitioned to Lenawee United Way in 1996, and a Call Help line was established.  Lenawee United Way maintained the database, and answered the calls for information and referral until 2005, when they discontinued the service.

To fill the unmet need, the Lenawee Community Foundation stepped up in 2007, and started publishing the Lenawee County Resource Guide, maintaining the database of community services, and answering the calls for referral to community services.  Additionally, there was great collaboration among local nonprofits.  Most attended monthly meetings to learn about resources, and knew exactly where to refer a person if their agency wasn’t the right place to provide help.

In 2009 Lenawee United Way partnered with neighboring United Ways to provide 2-1-1.  This service originated in a large city, where the nonprofits likely didn’t have had a strong network, and couldn’t provide answers, like we can here in Lenawee.  Fees for this service ranged from $20,000-30,000 annually.  Calls were answered in Jackson during normal business hours, and in Kalamazoo on nights and weekends, where the people who answered the calls didn’t know our community and relied on a computer database.

Eventually the call volume from Lenawee decreased to less than half of the peak number of calls, however the cost increased per call to approximately $13.  Lenawee United Way has given a 30-day notice to terminate the   2-1-1 contract, because it makes sense to utilize those funds to provide direct services to assist people in need.

What does this mean for Lenawee?  Lenawee Community Foundation will continue to provide information and referral services, as we have since 2007.  We don’t have long wait times when you call.  We are responsible for maintaining our database, and calling our nonprofits and scouring newspapers to assure our information is current.  We are currently answering as many calls as 2-1-1, and in fact, 2-1-1 is referring calls to us.

On September 23rd, local nonprofits and any interested individuals or organizations are invited to “Every Door is the Right Door” to learn about local services first-hand from our Lenawee nonprofits.  This program will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Human Services Building.  The program will enable anyone who answers the phone at a local nonprofit to assist the caller seeking resources.  Community Action Agency and Lenawee Great Start are collaborating with the Lenawee Community Foundation to put together this program, which in the past was provided every two years.

Lenawee Community Foundation will continue to connect local residents with the services they need.  Just give us a call at (517) 423-1729.  Current staff have a combined 40 years of experience, and we are committed to assuring that people in need have access to programs and services that help.  Additionally, through our Lenawee Cares annual campaign, we are raising funds to address needs and achieve the greatest good through our local nonprofits.

Do you have other questions?  If so, please don’t hesitate to contact the Lenawee Community Foundation at (517) 423-1729 or sue@lenaweecf.com.

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Suann Hammersmith, President and CEO of the Lenawee Community Foundation, assists individuals, corporations, and organizations in fulfilling their charitable goals for our community.  Services include: planned giving; information about charities and places to volunteer; and presentations about philanthropy.  If you have questions or would like assistance, contact the Lenawee Community Foundation at (517) 423-1729 or sue@lenaweecf.com