Interfaith serves individuals, families, veterans, senior citizens, the disabled, & the homeless in our community by providing basic needs such as emergency food, clothing, prescription medications, identification cards, hygiene items, & eye glasses.
The Center for Life exists to meet the urgent healthcare needs of those without insurance or enough income to afford professional care. This is accomplished through partnerships with other groups of professionals that volunteer to provide free medical, dental, and mental health services.
Additionally, free health education classes are offered weekly to those needing our services. The Center for Life also utilizes volunteer advocates to assist clients through the process of applying for benefits and services for which they may qualify; as well as helping clients connect with primary care physicians and other providers once benefits are in place. Our staff and volunteers seek to ensure that all Marion County residents have as much access as possible to healthcare and other related services.
Our Shelter Program for those experiencing homelessness in Marion County providing a safe haven and transitional services for families, single women and children. Our shelter provides 100% support while residents stay with us. Case management is a critical part of our shelter program and residents meet with staff regularly to discuss tasks and goals to gain self-sufficiency.
Children living in our shelter are enrolled in school/daycare and have after school tutoring if needed. Classes are provided to adults for budgeting, parenting, goal-setting, life skills and other relevant needs. Interfaith partners with local ministers to provide devotional meetings and bible studies to support the spiritual well-being and growth of our residents. The ultimate goal of our shelter program is to end homelessness, one family at a time.
Food 4 Kids also known as the “backpack” program, provides food in backpacks to fight hunger for elementary age children on the weekends. The program was created to provide food for children determined to be at risk of hunger by the school personnel. The schools refer children to be included in the program. Backpacks can include: canned meat, shelf-stable milk, peanut butter and jelly, soup, applesauce, oatmeal, pasta, etc.
Thanks to our donors and volunteers, we partner with 38 schools in Marion County, typically feeding over 1,800 children each week for a total of 10,800 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. A $25 monthly donation will provide the food needed to fill a backpack for one child for the month.
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, the financial assistance is paid directly to the provider.
Interfaith, along with 35 other local agencies, uses a shared database called Charity Tracker. This database allows agencies to record all services provided to individuals seeking assistance. This allows us to monitor services clients receive from other agencies to avoid duplication. This allows all of the participating agencies to better manage limited resources.
Food, Hygiene and Clothing Distribution
After completing our intake process, food is distributed in amounts appropriate for an individual or their family 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. Special consideration is given to the senior citizens, veterans and people with disabilities. Clothing is provided in our Clothing Boutique 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, Dunnellon, Pedro and First Baptist of Ft McCoy.
Other local pantries may receive food from Interfaith’s food warehouse, when available, but must use the shared database, Charity Tracker, to prevent duplication of services.
Prescription Assistance Programs
Interfaith provides prescription assistance to Marion County residents who are financially stressed and uninsured. The Prescription Assistance Program is housed in the Center for Life and supports the work of local free clinics by ensuring that patients have access to their prescribed medications. Depending on eligibility, applicants are served through one of three medication programs; and dedicated staff and volunteers work with clients to ensure they are connected with the most appropriate program.
- Emergency Prescription Program – provides vouchers once per year per person to purchase a 30 day supply of their prescribed medication. Funding for this program primarily comes from the proceeds of our IES Thrift Store.
- Long Term Prescription Program – helps clients to receive their ongoing medications directly from the pharmaceutical companies.
- HDG Program – specifically assists those with diabetes and/or mental health diagnoses with the cost of monthly medications and supplies; this program is made possible through a grant provided by the Marion County Hospital District.
Reading Glasses are made available to clients during our regular hours Monday through Friday. Volunteers use a standard reading chart to determine the strength needed for each client. These readers are made possible through a partnership with the local Lions’ Club.
Interfaith assists those that have recently moved to the area from out of state or county, by providing funds for Marion County Identification cards. This is essential for obtaining social services, housing and employment. This program is made possible through a partnership with our local Tax Collector’s Office.
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. In rare circumstances this program also helps people get to other hospitals around the state for specialized care or critical medical procedures. Cancer patients in need of help getting to and from chemo or radiation treatments can also find help through this program.
Workboots for Jobs
Thanks to our partnership with local employment agencies, we help those that are needing workboots or non-skid shoes in order to get hired for gainful employment. These jobs are skill-based and specialized, including direct supervision and training from our staff agency partners. The recipient not only receives a good paying job, but also dignity of providing financially for their families and household.