Outreach and case management is combined with financial aid from Friends in Sonoma Helping, and the charity does it best to feed the hungry and help the unemployed find a job. There may also be limited amounts of funds for expenses such as rent or paying heating bills, and the financial support from FISH will normally be targeted at people participating in the self-sufficiency process.
All assistance from the agency is very limited. It will often depend on money donated from the community or the receipt of government grants. Since funds are limited, there will often be a priority for families with children as well as senior citizens in Sonoma County, as those individuals can often be most at risk if they do not receive help.
In lieu of direct financial assistance, many applications will be given in information on local community resources. Staff will strive to link individuals in need of help with the appropriate non-profit or government agency that can help them in the most effective manner. They maintain information on a number of food pantries, churches, and other programs for those faced with poverty.
Emergency financial assistance is meant to stabilize income qualified members of the community. There may be emergency funds combined with connections to case management and self-sufficiency which move people toward stability.
Financial support may be available to clients who are enrolled in the FISH of Sonoma programming. Or in some cases exceptions can be made, as the non-profit may assist people who are involved with a community partner's case management services provided they have a referral.
Housing assistance is for people living in a temporary residence, such as a shelter, or that have an eviction notice. Tenants and households in need of one time, emergency rental assistance may qualify for help with a limited amount of back rent due and/or a security deposit. If someone does not meet eligibility requirements of Friends in Sonoma Helping for this service, then the agency will provide a referral to another program or local agency.
Additional support is offered too. It provides voucher for prescription medications, lifeline telephone assistance, boxes of free food from Faith Lutheran Church, funds for water or heating bills, and bus tokens for individuals who need it for a job. Case managers from Friends in Sonoma Helping also provide assistance in obtaining Birth certificates, State Identification cards, prescription eye glasses and eye exams, prescribed medications, and more.
Also, before any money is paid out for expenses such as rent or a medications, additional existing internal screening criteria is in place when staff are reviewing applications. This is done as the overarching goal is to assist the low income in Sonoma County by utilizing a best practice model of assessment.
Another benefit of this process is that additional financial or other self-sufficiency needs may be identified through the assessment process. If this is done, then Friends in Sonoma Helping may offer even more support in the form of referral to one of the local grant programs or some other local human service.
A clothes room is located at Sierra Drive. This is open a few days per week, and it can provide items as wide ranging as layettes to professional work attire or boots for day laborers. So people from Sonoma, especially children, may receive school clothing from the FISH sponsored room too.
There is help for teens and the youth as well as the unemployed. This can include employment readiness and real life experience at part time jobs, and this will in effect help youth to the understanding of self-sufficiency. Non-profits across northen California will hold boot camp where clients learn time management, how to search for a job, application techniques, and interview skills.
Outreach will help coordinate employment and job training activities. The service will also facilitate various workshops in partnership with the county and local job centers. Sessions will touch upon work requirements, time limits and employment opportunities that are available to them through a home visit with a case manager. The supportive services are offered, as needed, to overcome any barriers that the unemployed or working poor are facing that may be be preventing them from complying with appropriate work requirements.
The goal of the Outreach Services from Friends in Sonoma Helping is to ensure that all individuals are given every opportunity to participate in work activities. This is done so that people on public assistance can benefit from with education, skills training, work activities and job placement services. All of this is done to enable them to become self-sufficient over time.
Across California, there are government centers and non-profits that offer free basic and intermediate computer training classes. It will cover certain hardware and software applications, such as Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Both online and traditional, in room classes are held. An instructor is on-hand at most of these locations to answer any questions and provide individualized instruction.
In addition to all of the programs above which may be located in the county, Friends in Sonoma Helping is a great place for referrals. For more details, or to apply for help, contact FISH at 996-0111.
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