Moving day approaching for New Emergency Resource Agency

Ponca City Now - August 3, 2016 3:28 pm

The New Emergency Resource Agency is moving closer to its projected date for moving into its new building at South First Street and Central Avenue.

Director Tom Short said the projected opening for clients at the new location will be Aug. 26 or 29. Right now furniture and food are being shipped to the new location, 118 South First Street, while the agency continues its work as a food pantry at 500 North First Street.

"There will be about a week when we are not open during the move," Short said. "Shelving will be moved, files, computer software — several things have to happen before we move."

The new location, which formerly was used as Discount Carpet and Unfinished Furniture, is about 9,000 square feet, Short said.

"Right now we are a pantry and we get our food out of a store room," Short said. "Down there, clients will go to a private office with an interviewer to discuss each person's situation. Then they will go to the part that will look just like a grocery store with a volunteer shopper. It has built-in freezers and refrigerators and shelving with different products that clients will pick up."

Short said some of the food provided by NERA is provided by the USDA, and there are standards to go by listing what a client can get.

NERA serves a large geographic area, Short said.

"We go from the Kansas line south to Red Rock and then to Burbank," he said. "And we go from Interstate 35 on the west to Grainola, which is east of Shidler. We serve anyone in need in that whole area."

The amount of aid provided by NERA depends on the household, Short said.

Clients are asked to come to the agency with a utility bill dated in the past 30 days, as well as IDs for each person in the household.

"It is a little deeper than that, but it's not that stringent," Short said. "They fill out an app each time they come for help, which is once a month. It's pretty simple. We make it as easy as possible, but the application is to satisfy management for our funding."

The food which is made available at NERA comes mainly from donations, Short said, from food drives by churches, schools and businesses, as well as individuals from various places.

"Every bit that is given to us both physically and financially stays right here," Short said. "We don't send those donations anywhere else – it's all right here."

NERA also is able to purchase food from the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

"We buy for 10 cents on the dollar what we could buy at the store," Short said. "We can make it go further. No matter which way someone wants to donate — either with food or money to buy food — it is going to stay right here and help the people right here."

He said that for clients who do not meet the financial requirements to qualify for the food provided by the USDA, other sources can be used.

"If they have a need, one way or another, they will get food," Short said.

Clients can be served at NERA once every 30 days, he said. Meanwhile, there are other resources which can help fill the gaps for those in need of food.

"Meals on Wheels is available and the cost is not very much," Short said. "They use a sliding scale. An older person with a small benefit from food stamps could use Meals on Wheels to have prepared food delivered, and use their food stamps for essentials such as bread and milk."

He said Friendship Feast at First Christian Church also delivers meals for free to homebound clients, and now provides homeless bags on Fridays to carry clients over the weekends.

Short said more volunteers will be needed to operate NERA at the new location, but training is essential.

"Before they can help in the new building, they must go through training," Short said.

The first training session is Saturday, Aug. 6, and other sessions will be scheduled.

To sign up for a training session, call NERA at (580) 765-5372 or email [email protected].

For more information, visit the New Emergency Resource Agency Facebook page.

 

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