Emergency food, and occasional financial aid for bills or rent, is available from Catholic Social Services of West Alabama and will be combined with other support services, ranging from job placement to credit counseling. Staff from the charity help the low income and working poor in Tuscaloosa County, and while really the goal is to assist the client with overcoming poverty, some immediate short term support may be provided in the meantime.
Most of this need is met by food pantries, clothing closets, and thrift stores. These locations will provide either for free or low cost, goods ranging from boxes of groceries to clothing for work or school. Catholic Social Services of West Alabama thrift stores will sell gently used items such as Christmas toys, furniture, or kitchen appliances.
The food pantry distributes bulk supplies of free food to needy residents that meet conditions in place. Emergency supplies are distributed to families and individuals from across the area. The food and non-perishable items are stored on site in a commercial quality center that features shelves full of goods as well as freezer and refrigeration units.
Local clothing banks will provide gently used items for work or school. There may be free winter coats for children or notebooks and shoes for a child attending school. People that are working will be able to obtain dresses, slacks, jackets, and maybe even suits, and those with an interview or starting a new job may be given goods for free.
Government aid is available too. Case managers from Catholic Social Services of West Alabama can help clients apply for SNAP food stamps or the Women, Infants and Children Program. These are some of the nation's largest outreach programs, and millions of people across the country benefit from them.
To provide more details, WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for eligible very low income women, infants and children. Food stamps can be applied to be any low income family. They provide checks or EBT debit cards for buying nutritious foods and baby formula. In addition, participants receive education on health screenings, proper nutrition and referrals for additional services, such as soup kitchens in Tuscaloosa.
Catholic Social Services also partners with agency on aging centers in Western Alabama to run Senior Meal Sites. These were created to be a healthy and convenient alternative to eating alone, and the meals are served at a low cost or for free to the elderly. If a resident of Tuscaloosa is hungry, unable to shop or cook for yourself, and over the age of 55, they can stop by. Or if if they just want someone to share a meal with, then come to a local site for a hot and free healthy meal.
Other services include home-delivery for individuals and congregate site options. Working by itself or with partners, the Catholic Charity will provide hot, nutritionally balanced meals such as a lunch or dinner. This will also come with information on education and other appropriate counseling to older adults. Some programs include a group meal, which is a great opportunity for socializing with other seniors and participating in social activities.
Applications from Emergency Food and Shelter Assistance is an option. This uses federal government funds based on an annual allotment process. There are charities and non-profits across Tuscaloosa that can assist individuals and families in need of emergency, one time financial assistance. There may be grants used for utility bills, rent and maybe even partial mortgage payments. Other resources may be temporary shelter or short term loans for those housing expenses, such as a security deposit or first months rent.
Emergency assistance for utility bills, including help in applying for LIHEAP, is available. They provide assistance in multiple categories, which include regular one time help as well as funds for a crisis or to pay a deposit. There is money for families from Tuscaloosa County on a very low income that meet the terms and conditions in place. Note that LIHEAP is very limited and run by local community action agencies.
Volunteer home repairs provide support for very low income senior citizens and the disabled. There may be help making repairs and upgrades in owner occupied low- to moderate-income single-family homes. These improvements are primarily for addressing health and safety issues and include roof patching, plumbing and minor electrical as well as exterior painting or associated repairs.
Employment Services provides counseling to the under and employed, whether they are youths or seniors. There will be job development, placement, suggestions on how to retain a job, and workshops on employability skills training. All of this is available as guidance from Catholic Social Services of West Alabama, and the agency will also offer employment orientation. The job is important to overcoming and exiting a poverty situation.
People who are struggling to pay the bills and balance their budget often need help from credit counselors as well. The staff work one-on-one with clients to help them manage debt and resolve credit issues. Any type of issue with credit can negatively impact opportunities for securing capital for home ownership or getting relief from lenders. Clients will develop a plan and work throughout the process to help resolve any number of different credit or even rating issues.
Many churches and volunteers also partner with Catholic Social Services of West Alabama. The main office is at 611 James I Harrison Pkwy E, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35405. Dial (205) 759-1268.
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