Samaritans stuggling to help the stuggling

Sue Guinn Legg • Mar 2, 2012 at 8:29 AM

Good Samaritan Ministries is struggling to help local residents who are struggling to meet the rent.

With many government grant programs on hold pending approval of a federal budget, Good Samaritan Executive Director Sarah Wells said the ministry has been providing local residents with emergency rent and utility assistance without the annual emergency housing funds it normally receives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Emergency shelter funds from the Tennessee Department of Housing were down 20 percent for the fiscal year that ends June 30 and came in at just more than $47,000 to Good Samaritan. With four months remaining until the new fiscal year begins, Wells said those funds have been depleted by needs for help in the five counties served by the ministry.

Like a lot of the community agencies, Wells said, “We’ve been working off the donations of the community alone.”

And the work is getting more difficult. Cases in point include a young mother who fell behind on her rent while in treatment for multiple sclerosis. She’s $1,500 in debt to her landlord and facing eviction. Then there is the local veteran with a disabled brother who lives with him. He’s $1,600 behind in his rent and also facing eviction. While assistance for the veteran is in the works, Wells said the young mother’s case has been difficult and for her and her two children, ages 10 and 8, the ministry is seeking donations earmarked for “Mom with MS.”

For others facing similar housing emergencies, Good Samaritan is seeking donations earmarked for “benevolence” to help pay past due rent, utility and mortgage payments that can quickly put a family or an individual on the street.

“It’s the rent money and the mortgage money that’s not here,” Wells said.

Donations to Good Samaritan’s Heaven Sent Family Thrift Store will also help. Located at the ministry’s King Street entrance, the store provides a steady stream of revenue for the ministry’s benevolent work and just about any donation is welcomed — clothing, furniture, appliances, household items, even rags.

Finally, the ministry is continuing its drive to help provide in-home training for an assistance dog for Devon, a 12-year-old Blountville boy with a nocturnal seizure disorder. Devon and his family will travel to Middle Tennessee for several days of compatibility training with the dog and expect to be home and ready to continue the training here next week.

The cost of the training is substantial and some musical friends of the family are teaming up with Good Samaritan to help. A benefit concert will be held Saturday at Blountville Middle School, 1651 Blountville Blvd., beginning at 6 p.m. Featured performers will include The Evangelaires, The Lighthouse Gospel Singers, Valley Grass, Ray Wold and others. Henry Thomas from radio station FM94 will emcee the concert and a love offering for Devon’s special dog will be taken.

For others who would like to help, donations to Good Samaritan Ministries earmarked for “Devon,” or for the “Mom with MS” or for “Benevolence” may be made online at www.goodsamjc.org or by mail to Good Samaritan Ministries, P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605.

The number to call for pick up of donations to the Good Samaritan thrift store is 928-1116.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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