Many federal government workers have faced their first pay day without a paycheck and are about to go without another one. Penny Adams is the Executive Director of the AFL-CIO Community Services Agency in northwest Missouri’s St. Joseph. Adams said the Help-Me-Hotline is a resource available to anyone impacted by the federal government shutdown.
“For a lot of these workers, they have not ever had to reach out for any kind of assistance. Hopefully many of them have some sort of savings they can fall back on, but the majority of the people live paycheck to paycheck and that’s not an option for them. When they are in these situations, they don’t really know where to begin, so what we want to let them know is the first place we recommend they call is the Help-Me-Hotline. It’s committed to connecting people needing assistance to the resources that are out there in our community,” she says.
Adams says furloughed federal employees in need of social services and anyone with questions about availability of public benefits can call the Help-Me-Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get help.
“They can call about absolutely anything. We have a database that we can enter in what their needs are – say if they’re calling about food – we can enter in ‘food pantries’ and bring up all the food pantries and then we will help them narrow it down to a food pantry that works for them… because everybody’s situation is different,” Adams says. “If they’re needing help on utilities, we can tell them based on what kind of utilities they have, where they’re located, what agencies they need to call.”
Callers also can receive information on mental health counseling, transportation, job training, substance use recovery services, child care and volunteer opportunities. Additional information about unemployment benefits for furloughed employees is available from OPM at https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/furlough-guidance/#url=Unemployment-Insurance-Resources.
Adams says while they are focused on helping those in the northwest Missouri area, they also have access to resources all over Missouri and in Kansas. The Help-Me-Hotline is a free and confidential service.
For more information visit www.helpmenow.org or call (816) 364-1131 or (800) 365-7724.
By Sarah Thomack of Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph
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