More than 35 years ago, we were founded by the churches of Sioux Falls. We now strive to serve as an outreach arm of every congregation in Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha, and Turner Counties. We desire to work closely with Congregational leaders as they care for people with financial needs, both within their congregation and in their community. We are blessed to currently have active partnerships with more than 6o congregations.
Our church partners care for us in many critical ways: prayer; increasing their congregation’s awareness of the many challenges the working poor face; providing regular financial support; inviting our staff to ‘tell our story’ during worship, adult forums, and other settings; and by encouraging their congregants to volunteer. To maintain and foster strong congregational relationships, our by-laws require that we have at least three Pastors serving as Directors on our Board.
In turn, we strive to support congregations by serving as their ‘experts’ in these financial care areas. Our staff stays current on the numerous resources available in our communities … thus relieving some of this burden from Congregational leaders. We also work closely with Pastors and other Congregational leaders by responding to very specific questions about how to care for a family’s need. And if the needs prove to be greater than the Congregation can address on its own; the leader often refers the person to us to dig deeper and determine the appropriate mix of information, referral, and financial assistance that is appropriate.
While we desire to provide information and referral for a wide variety of needs, we focus our financial resources in three core areas: housing, utility cut-off prevention, and work related transportation. When Congregational leaders learn of financial needs outside of these three core areas, we partner with them through a “pass thru’.
A ‘pass thru’ happens when a Congregational leader decides they would like to provide financial assistance to someone, but they do not have the knowledge or the time to effectively carry it out. The leader refers the person to us … and then gives us a call to alert us of the situation. We schedule an appointment for a 30 to 45 minute personal interview with the person to: identify and explore their needs; help prioritize their needs; develop a basic budget; provide information and referral; provide encouragement; and offer prayer and support.
If we are able to validate the financial need the Congregational leader identified, we will care for it. Once completed, we contact the Congregational leader to let them know how it was addressed and how much it cost. They can then decide how much of this assistance they will ‘reimburse’ us for.
A built in strength to this type of partnership is that we keep the Congregational leader well informed of what we have done and what we were not able to do. This enables them to follow-up with the person to provide continuing spiritual and physical care.
BUILDING DEEPER RELATIONSHIPS
While we sincerely appreciate our regular financial partners and are thankful when we can work closely on a ‘pass thru’, we are also seeking ways to build even deeper/healthier relationships with Congregations.
Many churches have a Benevolence or Deacon’s Fund to care for people with financial emergencies. Several congregations have asked us to administer these funds for them. People are referred to us so that we can complete an in-depth interview, explore the variety of needs people often have, and have one of our professional social workers determine what steps we should take. We then make a recommendation to the leader responsible for the funds and disperse them upon their approval. This approach enables the Congregation to retain full control of the funds, while utilizing our trained personnel and procedures to care for needs.
A deeper partnerships may look a bit different for your congregation (and we are prepared to make adjustments), but the following are two examples of how congregations are currently partnering with us in this area:
If you would like to explore establishing a deeper relationship between your congregation and the ministry, please contact Dane at 605.331.3935. He would love to speak with you over a cup of coffee to see how the ministry can better meet your needs!