At Samaritan House, the main purpose is to provide emergency support to families in a crisis. It is generally for more basic needs, but there may be instances in which more in depth assistance can be provided by the charity.
Free food is for those in need. Pantry orders consist of food that is either donated by people across Macomb County or purchased with donated funds, and are assembled with the goal of feeding all household members with at three meals a day for 14 days. In some years thousands of families receive some form of assistance.
Samaritan House is also a distribution center for the Macomb County Community Services Agency (MCCSA). The only requirement for accessing the Food Program run by MCCSA is that the applicant is a County resident and has an emergency. Once an application is approved through MCCSA, Samaritan House will arrange for clients residing in the service area to receive their commodity food orders.
In addition to its relationship with MCCSA noted above, Samaritan House is a distribution center for another local non-profit known as Focus Hope. As part of this, Samaritan determines client eligibility and delivers Focus Hope US Department of Agriculture (USDA) orders to qualifying senior citizens who live in the service area. Samaritan House also assists clients with the application process if they so need it.
Samaritan House also offers Christmas help. Clients who participate in the free Holiday Meal Program are supplied with small dollar gift certificates for paying for the meat of their choice. Other holiday programs will pass out a box of specially packed food to prepare traditional Easter and Thanksgiving dinners at the appropriate times of the year.
The Christmas Tree Program is used to ensure that every child of each participating household has gifts under their tree on Christmas morning. In addition, Samaritan House tries to ensure that each household receives the makings of a traditional holiday dinner.
The program begins its work in October, when volunteers and clients meet to complete individualized wish lists that will incorporate the entire family. The next step is to create tags for each child, describing his or her wishes. These are then given to local businesses, churches, libraries and other organizations.
Members of the community select tags, buy the items and fulfill the wishes of the needy children. Each client household also receives a gift certificate to a local grocery store, to be used for the purchase of food for Christmas dinner. Key partners of this Samaritan House program include Ray Township Fire Fighters Ladies Auxiliary, Romeo and Washington Goodfellows, Shepherd’s Gate Lutheran Church, local businesses and Samaritan House.
Shelter and utility bill assistance is available through the HouseShelter Assistance program, which provides financial help to tenants so they can avoid eviction. Or the program may offer sufficient funds, including loans, to cover first month's rent or a security deposit for those wishing to move into a low income apartment. There is also emergency utility bill assistance arranged, including referrals to a crisis service from LIHEAP.
Funds have helped hundreds of people avoid an eviction. Samaritian has also helped people keep their water, natural gas, heat, propane gas, heating oil and electrical services running. The charity has also been able to help clients with structural repairs to dwellings, medical needs, water well pumps and replacement furnaces or water heaters. To do this, they have cooperated with a number of other agencies in Macomb County to provide a large portion of this assistance. When it comes to energy bills, if Samaritian House does not have funding, the families can try the LIHEAP crisis programs.
Their Clothing Assistance Program uses the Internet in a unique way to provide blankets, coats, clothes and shoes for low income families. It is also used for encouraging members of the community to donate their gently used clothing.
When a client expresses a need for help and is approved, Samaritan House will send an email to eCare donors, describing the desired items. Then donations may be used to bring the clothes to Samaritan House.
The agency has also partnered with the Accounting Aid Society to provide free State of Michigan and Federal Income Tax return preparation to income-eligible clients. To be eligible for this free service, yearly income cannot exceed $25,000 gross for an individual or $50,000 for a family.
The Samaritan Back-to-School Backpacks Program offers new or gently used, but age and gender-appropriate, backpacks filled with suitable school supplies. There may be pens, notebooks, and similar goods. There may also be clothing given out as well as $20 Payless Shoes gift cards.
Samaritan House is based at 62324 Van Dyke, Washington, MI 48094, dial 586-336-9956.
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