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Collier County St. Vincent De Paul direct assistance programs.

The approach from the staff at St. Vincent and their churches address the challenges that keep low income people living in poverty. There will be referrals to long term support to help residents leave poverty, and while this occurs emergency short term, direct assistance may be provided in Collier County. Any aid is not an entitlement, but is meant to serve as a bridge to self-sufficiency.

The application process will require proof of income and the hardship. The person will also need to show what their plan is for going forward to address the cause of their hardship. Only then, and if resources allow, may support such as food, clothing, or financial aid be provided.

Food and nutritional education is for families in need. One of the key programs, the St. Vincent of Naplies pantry, is only made possible by private as well as public support from food drives held by volunteers. There are also donations from restaurants, local grocery stores dozens of volunteers and providers work to make the pantry a success.

If qualified, an emergency food package will be passed out, and it will contain several days of groceries. It will depend on the family size, income, and other criteria. But the goal is to provide some form of healthy food.

Collier County St. Vincent De Paul pantry will also pass out paper goods, donated groceries, personal care items and cleaning supplies. When possible, and if needed, the non-profit will use money to buy fresh items such as milk, eggs, meat, vegetables, and fresh produce. The pantry can only be used a set number of times a year, based on income eligibility.

Churches that are part of Collier County St. Vincent De Paul also provides Thanksgiving as well as other holiday, such as Christmas, free food packages. Or a holiday meal may be served. This form of assistance is for low-income and homeless individuals and families.

There is also help for children as well as the elderly who might otherwise have no opportunity or nearby family to celebrate the holiday. Some meals may be delivered across the town of Naples Florida to people’s homes as well by the volunteers.




St. Vincent De Paul of Collier County also has other Christmas Programs such as Adopt-A-Family, which is for gifts, clothing, and meals. Saint Vincent will try to match up donors and the needy to offer more personalized holiday help. There may be toys for children, small gifts, meals, and food baskets.

Many of those who participate in this holiday program are children ages 0 – 12 years old. Others are single moms who are trying to buy a gift or seniors in a nursing home.

The Naples based Saint Vincent Society also provides free, gently used clothing as well as back to school supplies to individuals and families seeking assistance. This is addressed in a combination of the goods themselves as well as vouchers. Assistance is mostly focused on children.

Other support for the youth in Collier County may be free summer lunches when the children are home from school or staff can refer lower income families to summer camps with financial assistance opportunities. Children must be registered to participate.

However, in some cases others can use the clothing closet. There may be free shoes for men, backpacks for students, clothes for women and children. Additional household items can be purchased at a reduced price at the thrift store as well, as the general public in Collier County can use the center.

Financial aid and referrals are available as part of the Emergency Prevention and Stabilization program. This is a service that will help struggling families in Collier County overcome barriers. Or it can help those faced with homelessness.

The Society of Saint Vincent may offer direct financial aid. Or they can refer clients to grants to help pay energy bills for utility shutoffs, rent to stop an eviction, or job placement expenses, such as gasoline. The aid paid out will be used to help clients gain self-sufficiency and limit future need for help.

Applicants requesting financial assistance or a loan from St Vincent Direct Assistance Program are required to submit relevant documentation proving need. They also need to contribute a co-payment towards some of the bill whenever possible to ensure a shared sense of responsibility.

The program also arranges support with utility or heating bill payments by partnering with water and utility companies across Florida to help customers reduce their debts. This is usually the result of a payment plan. The outreach process from staff at Saint Vincent also offer mediation with landlords as a form of rental assistance to qualifying low income residents.





Also, as part of this assistance, the client will need to meet with an experienced Self-Sufficiency Coach. This person from the non-profit charity will work with the client to assess the emergency. A plan will be created to stabilize the situation. This is all part of Economic Self-Sufficiency.

This will put the family into position to improve their education. The next step will be improved job placement skills and the applicant will also be put into contact with resources necessary to achieve and maintain economic self-sufficiency without any future need for financial aid from Collier County St. Vincent De Paul or government welfare subsidies.

Saint Vincent has an objective to to increase employment that pays a family-sustaining wage. Another goal is to help people achieve a balanced household budget as well as get access to safe reliable transportation or locate affordable housing in Collier County. The process taking will be an individualized, strengths-based goal plan.

In addition to education and employment in ideally a decent paying sector of the economy, every case management plan also helps with basic needs. The family will learn how to access affordable childcare or to pay for a voucher. There is also financial literacy including banking and credit repair and guidance on establishing healthy supportive relationships within the community.

For referrals to partner churches, the number is (239) 775-1667 and address is 4451 Mercantile Avenue Naples, FL 34104. Often a home visit is required by Saint Vincent of Collier County as part of the application process.




By Jon McNamara

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