The non-profit Community Action of North Georgia provides both case management and information on programs that may offer one time, cash assistance for paying bills and basic needs. While the availability of funding will vary, in general very low income families may be able to qualify for help. Resources are offered across the counties of Chatooga, Cherokee, Catoosa, Dade, Fannin, Gilmer, Whitfield, Murray, Pickens, and Walker in Georgia.
As noted, satisfying basic needs is the focus of the agency. Just as important is family services or case management, which addresses employment and educational issues. Some of the primary programs offered by NGCA are noted below.
Emergency assistance is for individuals and families in a crisis. Maybe their situation was caused by loss of income, unemployment, or an unexpected expenses such as a car repair. Regardless, many residents of Northern Georgia are without the means necessary to maintain an acceptable standard of living.
Mostly by referrals, Emergency Assistance in the counties of Catoosa, Walker, and Chatooga includes LIHEAP utility bill assistance, rent help to prevent an eviction, budget counseling and referrals, and information on foreclosure assistance. The homeless may receive referrals to security deposit programs or shelters.
The low income energy bill LIHEAP program focuses on providing cash grants to qualifying applicants or families. The financial aid will be used to offset the increased costs of energy bills and expenses that are utilized for home heating purposes during the winter season. This service is available in all counties located within the North Georgia Community Action service area. All recipients are allowed a onetime annual benefit that will be applied to paying down their utility bills.
Free food pantries are located at many of the local Community Service Centers, such as in Cherokee, Gilmer, and Pickens. They provide free groceries, food, maybe clothing and hygiene items for families and individuals. It is offered for those with emergency needs.
There is also a local Community Food Bank. It offers staple and canned goods to address the immediate needs of low income households. This service is available at the NGCA community service center and can be used on a walk-in basis.
As part of the emergency aid, the community action agency will try to focus on Homeless Assistance. There are shelters and transitional housing units in Northern Georgia. Supportive services include referrals, credit counseling and employment assistance. People facing eviction also take priority, and they may receive onetime funds or loans for housing expenses or rent. Much of the funding comes from the Emergency Shelter Grant program.
Weatherization is an area of need for the low income. It is critical, yet often times overlooked. The focus of NGCA is on low income, disabled and senior citizens. There is an annual grant allocated to provide this service.
The North Georgia Community Action Agency Weatherization Services funds are used to improve the conditions of eligible homes. The free, energy conservation program is designed to reduce home heating and cooling bills by ensuring health and safety or improving energy efficiency. Priority is given to disabled or low-income elderly individuals.
The updates were designed to mostly tackle the high cost of home heating and cooling bills on low-income and elderly families. Homes may receive extra attic insulation, minor heating repairs, caulking, weather-stripping and in some cases the installation of more energy efficient appliances.
Family Development is a form of case management. It operates as a strength-based program. The applicant will partner with staff from North Georgia Community Action on a monthly or weekly basis to address barriers that may be preventing them from reaching their personal goals.
As part of this process, an assessment is completed to determine the needs and a formalized plan is developed. The plan that is agreed upon will need to addresses goals such as employment, affordable housing, education and training, financial stability, and health care.
Congregate Meal Sites are for senior citizens aged 60 or older and their spouses. They will be eligible for a nutritious, hot lunch at Congregate Meal sites in the region, including Walker County. This is offered regardless of income. However they request a small donation to help with meal expenses.
In addition to a low cost/free lunch, many seniors come early to enjoy the fellowship of others. Site activities include quilting, bingo, cards, board games, or exercise classes. There is also workshops held on financial matters, such as how to apply for Medicare.
North Georgia Community Action Mountain Area Transportation System serves as an affordable means of public transportation. It operates in the region, including Gilmer, Pickens, Fannin, Whitfield and Gordon County. The MATS transportation service can also support those with disabilities and also operates on a non-fixed route basis. Examples of rides provided can include shopping trips, medical appointments, or very local trips.
Meals on Wheels is for seniors, and is often run in partnership with agency on aging offices. The service supports homebound families or individuals by providing a free, daily nutritious meal that helps keep people living at home for as long as possible. Staff from North Georgia Community Action also offer information and referrals to other needed services in the community.
Several counties are supported by the North Georgia Community Action. The resources available, hours of operation, and funding levels may change by county as well.
Catoosa County, 4053 Boynton Drive, Ringgold, Georgia 30736, dial 706-858-0926
Chattooga County Office, 152 Senior Drive, Summerville, GA 30747, main phone 706-857-0729
Cherokee County Office, 3049 Marietta Hwy, Suite 120, Canton, GA 30115, 770-345-6531
Dade County office is at 3622 Hwy 11 S., Trenton, GA 30752. For information, dial 706-657-4664.
Fannin County, 6408 Old Hwy 76, Blue Ridge, GA 30513, 706-632-2854
Gilmer County Center, 1559 S. Main Street, Ellijay, GA 30540, 706-635-5858
Murray County address is 217 E. Market Street, Chatsworth, GA 30705, telephone number is 706-695-5913
Pickens County center - 250 W. Church Street, Jasper, Georgia 30143, call 706-692-6803
Walker County, 201 S. Main St., Courthouse Annex 3, LaFayette, GA 30728. Call the non-profit at 706-638-2163
Whitfield County, 420 N. Hamilton Street, Dalton, Georgia 30722, 706-226-7241
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