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Agency is there when helping hand is needed

Editor's note: This is the next in a series of articles highlighting the agencies that receive funding from United Way of Ellis County.

Mary is typical of a working adult living in poverty. She worked full-time, raising two kids on her own, and struggles to pay her bills every month, keep food on the table and shelter for her and her children.

When Mary came to Western Kansas Association on the Concerns of the Disabled, she was at the desperation level. She was a month behind in her utilities and had just picked up food at the food pantry.

WKACD set her up with transportation vouchers -- a monthly service that provides fuel or Access tickets to and from work. The staff then provided Mary with resource and referral services. WKACD not only provides a transportation program but is also a contractor for Kansas Rehabilitation Services -- a service that provides job services and supports for individuals that want to go back to school to earn a degree. WKACD also provides resources and referrals to other agencies for support services.

The agency provides services to all that have a need.

WKACD has been on a journey with Mary for 15 months. She was determined eligible for Kansas Rehabilitation Services and chose to go to school. Mary will graduate spring 2014 from NCK Tech and will seek employment as a pharmacy technician.

With support from other agencies, Mary has managed to be a full-time student, work part-time and take care of her financial responsibilities. The staff at WKACD has seen a lot of Marys who have come through the door. Married couples who both work but cannot meet their financial obligations. People with limited income have come to WKACD for help when some financial crisis has befallen them. They are usually with WKACD for one to three months. They determine when the services no longer are needed and just stop coming in. This, too, can be counted as a success.

Many clients are chronically under-employed. They are under-employed because of lack of education. Some qualify for Kansas Rehabilitation Services, while others are referred to KansasWorks. WKACD offers referrals to other agencies to assist them in becoming better employed.

Our program helps some just by getting them to work every day. They then gain the confidence to continue to work and in a couple of cases they are now looking for more substantial work while they are still employed. The Transportation Work Voucher Program has been designed to benefit the low-income residents of Ellis County by providing transportation to and from work.

WKACD serves the people with the low incomes in order to help them to be more independent. Many people are in a financial crisis sometime in their lifetimes. WKACD gets people who are laid off from their jobs and come in to get a voucher to look for work.

Within a couple of weeks, they will come back to get a voucher for transportation to and from work. Many of these clients only will use services for a short time, as they will find steady employment.

Those who find steady employment are looked upon as a success story as they become financially independent. WKACD provides individuals with the tools to achieve financial stability.

* For more information about the United Way-funded agency, visit www.wkacd.org.