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Community Support Services

4th Quarterly Focus

Alachua County Cooperative Extension Office The Florida Friendly Landscaping Tours & Seminars were held on September 18, 2010. Alachua County residents were invited to tour 10 area landscapes that exemplify Florida Friendly Landscaping techniques. Attendees were able to walk-in and observe landscapes that were staffed by Master Gardener Volunteers to answer their horticulture questions. Following the morning tours the 120 participants attended a lunch and seminars at a local conference center. There were vendors exhibiting their Florida Friendly services and plants, as well as governmental service providers. The seminars covered Expanding your Plant Palette with Florida Friendly plants, Installing rain barrels and rain gardens, using ground covers, and understanding fertilizer ordinances. Attendees to similar tours and seminars are often close to making changes in their landscapes. By providing local examples of landscapes, education, and providers of services, they will have the tools to move forward with their intentions of having a more Florida Friendly landscape. Following the seminars participants were asked to sign a pledge to adopt practices that would make their landscapes more environmentally friendly. Twenty-five percent of attendees committed to using appropriate plant material, to use slow release fertilizers and to use water conservation practices. These seminars also provided CEU’s for nursery professionals and pesticide license holders. Many of the comments following the event encouraged the Alachua County Extension Office to have this event in the future, because it was very beneficial to homeowners, nurserymen, and landscape professionals.

Statistics 

Veteran Services responded to 10,502 phone calls

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Social Services provided healthcare services to 279 clients

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CHOICES enrollment at the end of the quarter was 3,340

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676 clients were seen by Veteran Services Counselors

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Volunteers donated 38,726 hours to our community through the Division of Senior Services

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88% of clients helped through the Division of Social Services maintained housing after 90 days

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12,531 prescriptions were filled by CHOICES

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$104,183 was saved by Alachua County citizens using their NACO pharmacy discount savings card

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Crisis Center staff and volunteers responded to 12,880 calls from citizens in distress

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Cooperative Extension assisted 19,447 citizens

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96% of CAPP agencies are meeting their poverty reduction goals

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5,466 victims and survivors of violent crime received support and assistance via phone or face-to-face from the Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center 935 citizens were impacted through Social Services’ Rent and Utility Assistance Program

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$900,297 awarded to 20 CAPP agencies for 28 poverty reduction programs for FY2010/11.


Issues 

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The Indigent Burial & Cremation Program has an annual budget of $32,690. In FY 09/10, total expenditures exceeded the budget allocation at a cost of $66,393. The increase in expenditures may be attributed to the number of requests for services. To this end, Social Services recommended to BoCC, a Cremation Preferred Policy as a cost containment strategy for Alternative Futures. The Cremation Preferred Policy has shown to be an effective strategy in reducing overall costs. Division of Veteran Services has continued to see an increase in the demand for services. With new VA changes to benefits and economic need, we are experiencing an increased number of phone calls and citizens needing appointments. CHOICES phone volume has risen substantially over the last three quarters of the FY09/10. The volume rise each quarter is similar and probable reflects the growing community recognition of CHOICES as a worthwhile program. There are also probably economic factors in the growth of interest in the CHOICES Program. Walk-in have also increased substantially

Departments Impact Stories 

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The Division of Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center provided services to a 34 year old disable male victim of domestic violence. Due to the violence being perpetrated by family members the victim found himself homeless and without family support. Program staff referred the victim to Peaceful Paths and supported him with the application process for relocation funds. Personal advocacy on behalf of the client by his counselor resulted in him moving into an assisted living facility. The advocate contacted a program resource that provided funds for him to purchase a bed, TV and various other household items. Victim is currently safe and living an abuse free life. In FY 09/10 The Division of Social Services impacted 2,944 citizens and kept them from homelessness and/or prevention of utility disconnection by participating in the Eviction & Utility Disconnect Prevention Program. This example of a “success “ at the Crisis Center is not the most exciting, dramatic or harrowing event this quarter , but instead one that plays out on a daily basis for us…quietly being present with citizens in distress and then ,through our phone and face to face counseling ,staying with these people...“A husband called in concerned because he had just discovered his wife cutting herself. The phone counselor initially worked through the husband to assess immediate medical needs as well as her lethality and how we might most be of help. Since emergency medical assistance didn’t seem to be required, the phone counselor spoke directly with the woman, who indicated that she was bipolar. She had been out of medication for weeks and her psychiatrist was out of town. She reported past hospitalizations. She had been depressed for several months. At the moment, the woman was experiencing anxiety and feeling out of control. Suicide seemed like the only option to get relief. As a result of the one hour call, the caller was able to stabilize and acknowledged she could get through the night. She promised to call if the compulsive and overwhelming thoughts returned. She also agreed to get help the next day with medication and to come to the Crisis Center for counseling. The woman and her husband came in for counseling services the following day. She continued in counseling for several weeks and continues to use the phone lines as a way to control the overwhelming anxiety that she sometimes experiences”

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Veteran Services Counselor assisted an homeless veteran in receiving VA Pension as a monthly benefit and a $23,000.00 retro payment. This will allow the homeless veteran to greatly improve his situation and resolve his homeless status.

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The 2009/2010 CAPP RFA process offered an online training video to potential applicants, thereby not requiring physical meeting space, staff time, applicant time or vehicles to be driven to a training area. On September 14, 2010, Senior Services staff attended the groundbreaking for the Senior Recreation Center at Northside Park. The Center is a collaboration between the County, City of Gainesville and ElderCare of Alachua County, and the Senior Services Director was instrumental in coordinating the effort.

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CSS Quarterly Focus Newsletter - 4th Quarter