Those persons seeking assistance are interviewed by a Volunteer to determine how Interfaith can assist with their needs. Proper identification is required for those coming to Interfaith for help. For emergency funds that are provided for clients in need of medication and a variety of other services, the financial assistance is made directly to the provider. Interfaith, along with 35 other local agencies, uses a shared database called Pathways. This database allows agencies to record all services provided to individuals seeking assistance. This increases our productivity with data entry, as well as allowing us to monitor what other services clients receive so that duplication is eliminated. Many of the services we provided are listed below.
Food, Hygiene and Clothing Distribution
After completing our intake process, food is distributed to those in need in amounts appropriate for their family and situation by our food pantry located in our warehouse. Interfaith uses the National Poverty Level as a guideline for those qualifying for assistance to determine eligibility. Hygiene items, which are not covered by food stamps, are a great need for our clients. Those items are provided to clients in the same manner as our food services. Food and hygiene items can be given 6 times a year. Clothes are provided every day for free to those in need.
Locations for food assistance include Ocala (Monday - Friday), Reddick (Wednesday - Thursday) and Marion Oaks (Tuesday). Interfaith also supports satellite pantries in partnership with local churches at Fellowship Baptist and First Baptist of Ft McCoy. Other local pantries receive food from Interfaith's pantry, when available, but must use the shared database, Pathways to prevent abuse.
When emergency prescriptions assistance is needed, those who qualify are provided assistance with a 30 day supply through our prescription program. Partnering with local pharmacies, Interfaith provides funding for one time services (within a 12 month period), then refers the client to our Long Term Prescription Program if needed. Funds for this program are mostly generated through our Thrift Store and grants.
Interfaith assists those that have recently moved to the area from out of state or county, by providing funds for Marion County Identification cards which are essential for obtaining any type of services and employment.
Families in crisis that have medical appointments at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, can apply for a voucher for gasoline. In conjunction with a local gas station, vouchers are provided in an amount so that families can travel to Gainesville and return home.
We currently have two eye glass programs: Prescription Glasses: A client needing glasses must have an employment letter from employer stating the need to have glasses to perform the job. Or, for children in Marion County, when children need glasses for school, must have a letter from their school of attendance stating the need as well as a parent letter, proper ID, and social security cards for both parent and child. Reading Glasses: are given away at the office, we have a small reading chart to determine the strength needed for each client.
Food 4 Kids is also known as the "backpack" program provides food in backpacks to fight hunger for elementary age children on the weekends. Our "backpack program" as it's termed, was created to provide food for each child that qualifies at the school level for assistance. Backpacks can include: canned meat, shelf-stable milk, peanut butter and jelly, soup, apple sauce, boxes, cereal, etc. Thanks to donations and volunteers, we partner with 35 schools in Marion County, typically feeding over 1,650 children each week for a total of 9,900 meals. Food 4 Kids makes a huge difference in the lives of hungry children by enabling them to focus on learning instead of their hunger and keeping them healthy and nourished which enables them to learn.
Our Shelter Program for the homeless in Marion County provides a safe haven and transitional services for homeless families, single women and children. Our shelter provides 100% support while residents stay with us. Along with chores and responsibilities each day, residents are required to look for work, be working or volunteering. Children are enrolled in school/daycare and have afterschool tutoring if needed. Classes are provided for budgeting, parenting, goal-setting, life skills and other relevant needs. Residents meet weekly with a case worker that helps transition them to stable, self-supporting lifestyle on their own. They also meet with a Shelter Manager weekly. The ultimate goal of our shelter program is to end homelessness, one family at a time.
The Recovery House Program is home to male residents only who live in the transitional house behind the main complex. This program is often a main component for recovery to the residents as they work to improve their lives and get a fresh start. For more information, call 352.732.7858.
Our Long Term Prescription Program provides assistance to those clients that cannot afford monthly maintenance medications. Dedicated staff and volunteers meet one on one with clients to evaluate whether they qualify for long term assistance provided by the pharmaceutical companies, at no expense to Interfaith. For more information, contact Becky or call her at 352.629.8868 x 201.
Educational Programs for our shelter residents are offered at the Learning Center, which provides training in areas such as parenting skills, anger management, and sewing classes, as well as tutoring for school, computers, and GED degree. Bible Study classes are provided each weekday morning for volunteers, residents, and staff, as well as for those who wish to participate.