As the calendar nears the final months of the year, the season becomes referred to as the season of giving. Namely, giving to those in need. Around the globe, “in need” takes on different definitions. Seeing a Tesla or BMW pull out of a parking lot may sometimes make it easy to forget there is true need surrounding some members of this town. The common image of those individuals, however, are not universally accurate.
Some school-based clubs work with a ReStore located in Merrillville which offers reduced prices on goods those in need might use. Habitat for Humanity president senior Caroline Sarbieski has been going to that ReStore and bringing members of the club with her.
“Habitat for Humanity has been working at the restore where all proceeds go back to the foundation. Anyone can go there and help. Through the restore, it allows people to get different items like trimming and other home improvement supplies at a very cheap price,” Sarbieski said.
Sarbieski was given the opportunity to be president and has enjoyed every moment of it. Because Habitat for Humanity helps those in need, she admires participating in a club that gives back to the community.
“I decided to take on being president for Habitat for Humanity because the previous president reached out to me and asked me to take over and I agreed,” Sarbieski said. “I really like going to the ReStore because they are all so nice there and we are all working to a good cause.”
Habitat for Humanity is helpful to those in need, and the Crown Point Mayor’s office led by Mayor David Uran recognizes that individuals in the community are in need, however at levels below the national average. “In 2015 our poverty level was at 6.6 percent. That is far below the national average of 13.5 percent,” Uran said.
Over the past nine years, Uran has seen an improvement of the economic situations of families in Crown Point. Average annual incomes have risen over $10 thousand per household.
“The City of Crown Point partners with the township trustee offices to help with people who are in need of financial assistance. These offices have the resources to assist income challenged individuals or families. These are programs that are funded via local, county, and state tax dollars,” Uran said. “The City does have a Crown Point Cares account that we take in donation to help assist Crown Point residents. This program has helped fund holiday gatherings and time of need situations or unforeseen financial hardships for families that are sponsored by our local churches.”
Winfield Township Trustee Paulette Skinner heads one of the township offices serving Crown Point. For the past three years in office, she has worked to provide financial assistance and food donations to families in need, especially during the holiday season.
“We see an increase in the need for holiday items, like turkeys, green beans, stuffing, all of that. Generous donors help us to make baskets for some families that need them during the holidays,” Skinner said. “We can also help some families pay certain bills or refer them to a place in Crown Point that can help them.”
Skinner recognizes the potential for those to say that Crown Point does not face poverty in some cases; however, she understands that the need is significantly lower than other surrounding cities.
“We’re very lucky to have fewer people in need of help here in Winfield. There may not be a whole lot, but there are some families that are just a paycheck away from being under the poverty line,” Skinner said. “In (the office), we see a lot of sad situations and hear a lot of heart wrenching stories. One of the saddest was a woman who couldn’t afford to bury her husband. So, we helped her pay for the services.”
The Center Township Trustee’s office handles administering services. They work to give out resources to those in need. The Trustee’s office also represents the school corporation.
“The services available include : medical care, transportation, food, utilities, and funeral/burial.” Uran said, “These services are government sponsored programs that are subject income level specific.”
St. Matthias Church, located across from the high school, is another service that provides numerous programs for the community and those in need. Pastoral Associate and Director of Religious Education Jackie Gentry helps facilitate an event titled Pick 7.
“Pick 7 is an outreach opportunity where we invite the public to join us one Saturday morning every other month to enjoy hospitality, breakfast, and an opportunity to visit with our wellness ministry and receive free blood pressure and blood sugar checks as well as visit with a representative of 211 which can offer resources and assistance for a variety of outreach needs.” Gentry said.
The church works hard to offer services for its parishioners but they also ask for donations in return that help many in Crown Point receive food and financial aid.
“The St. Matthias parishioners support these efforts through their generous donations. They give both monetary donations as well as food items,” Gentry said. “St. Matthias also offers financial assistance to those who live in Crown Point that may need one time emergency assistance with a utility or household bill.”