How CHP’s Family Services Fights Poverty

Posted: December 8, 2016

In Southern Berkshire County, where the scenery is pleasing, where cultural attractions and lovely historic towns beckon visitors and locals, poverty is a mostly quiet secret — except to the CHP Family Services team. Family Services staff regularly work with young families facing employment challenges, transportation problems, medical issues and other crippling personal hurdles.

Photo: Berkshire Edge
Photo: Berkshire Edge

Poverty–lack of money–is the ailment that happens when a series of adverse conditions quickly (or gradually) undermine a family’s financial security. The conveniences so many families take for granted, such as year-round employment, working vehicles (usually two per family), general good health — are simply not the norm for many families. A single medical issue alone can quickly send a family spiraling downward.

For these families, there is help. But but there is also paperwork, bureaucracy, documentation rules,  income verification, proof of residence, and more. When one or more factors collide to destabilize a family, meeting the requirements to get relief can be overwhelming, even paralyzing.

That’s where Family Services comes in, by providing as much on-site assistance as possible for everything from fuel assistance, to WIC and other food support, help with all manner of applications and setting up key appointments. Family Services is a social hub for young parents, with playground and other gatherings, and a doorway to resources for doing better. Family Service is also a step toward health insurance for all–regardless of income or immigration status.

Food assistance is critical — a first line effort at CHP.  CHP’s monthly participation in the Western Mass Food Bank’s distribution to area families has become a cornerstone of how CHP helps its neighbors. On the first Tuesday of each month, the food truck pulls in to CHP in Great Barrington, and by 10 a.m., the line is forming for the noontime distribution.

To learn more about the CHP-Food Bank connection, take a look at an article in The Berkshire Edge about the monthly food distribution, the people it serves, and the Family Services effort to be part of the solution.

Family Services is a key component of the larger Community Health Programs health network serving Berkshire County, and it’s the CHP program most dependent upon grants, donations and gifts. If you would like to join the effort to fight poverty in Southern Berkshire, you can do so by supporting CHP.

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