Dec 9, 2011

Small food pantry makes a big impact on the lives of area residents

Tom and Shirley Fox live in a small house on a quiet little road in Athens County.  About the only thing big at the property, in fact, is the large dog that ambles about outside.
Inside this humble home located near Millfield, though, the couple runs the Ray of Hope Food Pantry and provides a large amount of hope and assistance to people every day. 

Dec 6, 2011

Open interviews for truck drivers, mechanics to be held on Dec. 14 at The Work Station

A local company will be conducting open interviews for truck drivers and mechanics on Wednesday, Dec. 14 from 1-5 p.m. at The Work Station in The Plains. For more information on the positions that area residents can apply for, click here or call The Work Station at 797-1405.

Dec 5, 2011

Homeless shelter sees increase in demand, does not have enough room for all of the people in need

Click here to read an article in The Athens NEWS on increases in homelessness in Athens County and the region. The Good Works Homeless Shelter in Athens County is being forced to turn away more homeless people than ever before simply because the demand for assistance is so high.

Nov 30, 2011

Ohio's poverty crisis

       If all of the children living in extreme poverty in Ohio lined up and held hands, the line of children would stretch all of the way from Cleveland to Columbus.
Living in extreme poverty means that your household income is at or below 50 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.  According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, more than nearly 275,000 children are living in extreme poverty in Ohio. That number is shocking and disappointing.

Nov 16, 2011

Homeless area residents explain the challenges they are facing

Throughout the last year, many of our clients at Athens County Job and Family Services have filled out surveys discussing the hardships they are facing. Following are several of the comments from clients who are currently homeless or are in danger of becoming homeless:

“Currently, my hardships are that I have no job and am having a hard time finding work. As a result, I have no home, I just have to bounce around from place to place and stay with my friends. I also have no money to pay for groceries or food at all. I won’t need help for long, but at the moment I would really appreciate it.”

“I have no money or income. I have been living out of my car and I am seeking help with food. I have been looking for work, but no luck. Please help. I would also appreciate medical, too, but food is what I need. Thanks for your time.”

Oct 31, 2011

November is Open Enrollment Month for Medicaid clients in Athens County

November is the Open Enrollment Month for all Medicaid clients in southeast Ohio, including Athens County.

November is the only month of the year that southeast Ohio residents can switch between the three managed care plans providing Medicaid coverage. All area residents who are eligible for Medicaid are strongly encouraged to look closely at the benefits of each of the plans.

Oct 26, 2011

Special event to raise money for Friends and Neighbors food pantry

A special event featuring bands, great food, a costume contest, a haunted hayride and other activities will be held this Saturday near Coolville in order to raise money for the Friends and Neighbors Community Choice Food Center.
The event is being held to raise money for the center’s new food pantry facility, and will be held at the location of the new center.

Oct 5, 2011

Budget cuts force Child Support Enforcement Agency to alter its schedule for processing cases

      Due to a state budget cuts, it is now taking longer for the Athens County Child Support Enforcement Agency to process cases.
The agency is part of Athens County Job and Family Services, which lost more than $1.2 million in funding in the new state budget and had to scale back programs and lay off staff. This most recent budget cut was on top of several other state and federal budget cuts in recent years. In response to the funding cuts, the Athens County Child Support Enforcement Agency has now altered its schedule for processing cases.

Sep 27, 2011

Dateline NBC special that featured Athens County wins an Emmy Award

The Dateline NBC special that aired in July of 2010 and featured Athens County won an Emmy Award during the Monday, Sept. 26 ceremony in New York City for News and Documentary programs.

“America Now: Friends and Neighbors,” originally aired on Sunday, July 25, 2010 on NBC. A short follow-up to the program then aired on Aug. 1, 2010. The program won the award for Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story in a News Magazine.

Aug 24, 2011

Federal cuts to social services would hurt Athens County, southeast Ohio

If the new federal budget calls for significant cuts to social service programs, Athens County and most of the counties in Ohio’s Sixth and 18th Congressional districts stand to be hurt much more by the cuts than other counties in Ohio.

Athens County Job and Family Services has put together a report examining the impact that federal funding has in Ohio's Sixth and 18th Congressional districts. The report clearly shows the strong benefits of government programs in the two districts and the need to support funding for these programs.

Aug 10, 2011

Athens County Child Support Enforcement Agency to no longer accept payments at its office

Due to budget cuts that have forced staff reductions, the Athens County Child Support Enforcement Agency will no longer be able to accept cash payments or any other payments for child support or spousal support at its office beginning on Sept. 1, 2011.

The agency is providing several payment options for area residents who previously paid at the Athens County Job and Family Services County Home Building.

Aug 9, 2011

Dateline NBC program that focused on Athens County nominated for an Emmy

A nationally-televised news program that focused on Athens County and aired in 2010 has now been nominated for a prestigious national award.

The Dateline NBC special, “America Now: Friends and Neighbors,” has been nominated for an Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be presented during a ceremony in New York City on Monday, Sept. 26.

Aug 4, 2011

Job Corps to hold public meeting at The Work Station on August 10

All area residents between the ages of 16 and 24 who would like to learn more about different career opportunities may want to take part in an upcoming meeting at The Work Station in The Plains.

On Wednesday, Aug. 10, representatives from the Job Corps will be meeting with area residents at The Work Station from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Job Corps is a program that can help people earn their GEDs, learn about different career options and even begin training for different fields.

Aug 2, 2011

Athens County Reentry Program expands

The Athens County Reentry Program is expanding its services and personnel in order to help more ex-offenders live independently after serving their time in prison.

The Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services recently awarded a grant to Athens County Job and Family Services and the Athens County Reentry Task Force to allow for the expansion of the program.

Jul 22, 2011

Ohio residents can now apply online for assistance, make changes to their cases online

Ohio residents can now apply online for cash assistance, food assistance and Medicaid, and they can make changes to their cases online as well.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has created a new website that allows state residents to apply for food assistance, cash assistance and Medicaid through one simple form. They can also now complete interim reports for their cases, fill out forms to reapply for services and report changes to their cases online.

Jul 19, 2011

Stories of our clients - Julie's story

Life is pretty tough for Julie right now.

She is out of work, she doesn’t have enough money to get by, and she and is dealing with health problems. She and her husband have a three-year-old daughter to take care of and they are having a hard time making ends meet. They are currently living with Julie’s cousin in order to save money.

Jul 13, 2011

Stories of our clients - Susan's story

Susan (not her real name) was very happy with her life just a few months ago. She enjoyed her job, she and her husband had a nice home for their son and everything was going pretty well.

They weren’t getting rich and they had some medical concerns and other problems, but overall life was stable and enjoyable.

But then, just before Susan was set to take her paid vacation at work, she learned from her bosses that her job was being eliminated due to budget cuts. She is now out of work and her husband, who has held several jobs in recent years, also does not currently have steady full time work.

Jul 11, 2011

Free lunch program keeps children fed in the summer

“Do you guys have the free lunches?” a young boy asked as he walked up to the picnic table at the park beside the swimming pool in Nelsonville on a recent summer day.

This young man was one of hundreds of children who receive free lunches in Nelsonville every day throughout the summer. The lunches are passed out by the Nelsonville Community Center, thanks to a grant-funded program from Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action.

“I think this is amazing,” said Rhonda Bentley, director of the Nelsonville Community Center. “I love this program.”

Jun 21, 2011

State budget cuts force layoffs, changes in programs and services

State budget cuts are forcing Athens County Job and Family Services to eliminate 25 positions, 18 of those through layoffs.

In the proposed state budget, Athens County Job and Family Services stands to lose $1.2 million in state and federal funding. The agency is also projected to lose an additional $670,000 in federal stimulus funds.

“Our staff members struggle every day to meet the overwhelming demands of an increasing caseload of families in need,” Director Jack Frech said. “Cutting services to poor people to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy represents the worst of what’s left of our social conscience.”

Jun 16, 2011

Local officials urge state leaders to protect funding for safety net programs

The Ohio budget process may be close to being finished, but area residents still have time to encourage state leaders to make major changes to protect services for families in need.

The Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate have both passed their versions of the two-year state budget, and now legislative leaders from both bodies are trying to come up with one budget plan for the next two years. The House and Senate budget plans, along with the plan submitted by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, call for deep cuts to human services programs, local governments, education and other areas of the state government. These cuts will further harm the state’s safety net system, which has seen its funding slashed several times in recent years.

“Ohio needs to raise revenue, instead of just continuing to cut the budgets to state programs,” said Jack Frech, director of Athens County Job and Family Services. His agency has lost millions of dollars in state funding in the last three years and had to lay off staff and reduce or eliminate services. Now, Athens County Job and Family Services stands to lose more than $1 million in the latest round of cuts.

Jun 9, 2011

Earning their GEDs opens up new doors for Athens County residents

The Athens County Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) program honored its graduates from the 2010-2011 academic year with a special ceremony held on Friday, June 3 in Chauncey. Graduates from a wide range of ages and backgrounds earned their GEDs through the program at the Athens County Job and Family Services Work Station this year, and a large crowd of family members and friends attended the ceremony to support the graduates.

Several of the graduates explained during the ceremony and after that they will now be continuing their educations in college or taking on new job opportunities.

Jun 8, 2011

Graduates honored for their achievements, discuss their plans for the future

The Athens County Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE) Program honored its 2010-2011 graduates during a Friday, June 3 ceremony and also heard from three special speakers during the evening.

The ABLE program is coordinated by the Athens County Job and Family Services Work Station and has helped 67 area residents receive their GEDs in the last year. And by the time the school year concludes at the end of June, the program likely will have more than 70 graduates. Over the last several years, the program has averaged more than 70 graduates per year.

Jun 1, 2011

Impact of federal budget cuts also discussed at the recent One Ohio Now meeting in Athens

Doug Stanley, director of the Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action Program (HAPCAP), said at the May 24 One Ohio Now meeting in Athens to discuss the state budget proposal that while his agency should not be hurt directly by the state budget, it could be greatly impacted by cuts to the next federal budget.

May 31, 2011

Comments from a Washington County school official at the May 24 One Ohio Now meeting in Athens

Bob Caldwell, superintendent of the Wolf Creek Local School District in Washington County, explained at the Tuesday, May 24 One Ohio Now meeting about the state budget proposal that the current budget plan takes away funding that was promised to schools and local governments, and also brings additional cuts for schools.

Media coverage of the meeting to discuss the impact of the state budget proposal

Here are a few links to articles about the May 24 meeting in Athens to discuss the potential impacts of the state budget proposal on Athens County and southeast Ohio. One Ohio Now and Athens County Job and Family Services helped to organize the meeting.

Click here to read the article in The Athens NEWS

Click here to read the article in The Post.

Click here to read the article posted by One Ohio Now.

May 27, 2011

Additional comments from the One Ohio Now meeting about the state budget proposal

Andrea Reik, director of Athens County Children Services, explained at the Tuesday, May 24 One Ohio Now state budget meeting that her agency is looking at a cut of $200,000 in the current budget proposal. Reik is concerned about the cut to her agency, as well as the cuts to many other social service agencies that local families depend on.

Local officials explain how the proposed budget cuts will impact Athens County, encourage Ohio residents to contact their state senators and representatives

Ohio residents still have time to have an impact on the proposed state budget and can call on state leaders to take a balanced approach to the budget instead of just making further cuts to programs that help children and poor people.

That was one of the key messages of the One Ohio Now public meeting held at the Athens Community Center on Tuesday, May 24. The meeting featured representatives of local social service agencies, unions and a school district, all talking about how the proposed budget will affect the people they serve.

May 20, 2011

Public forum to examine how the state budget proposal will affect Athens County, southeastern Ohio

Local officials and area residents are all invited to take part in a public forum on Tuesday, May 24 to discuss the potential impacts of the proposed state budget.

May 11, 2011

National magazine writes about poverty in Appalachia

The national magazine, The Nation, recently wrote an article about poverty in Appalachia and interviewed our director, Jack Frech for the article.
To read the article on the web site for The Nation, click here.

May 6, 2011

Ohio House budget hurts poor families

The two-year state budget proposal passed this week by the Ohio House of Representatives does nothing to help Ohioans in poverty and in many cases will just make things worse for poor children and families.

“At a time when we have seen an increase in wealth by the richest Ohioans and an increase in the number of people living in poverty, we have continued to grant tax cuts to the families who are living in luxury,” said Athens County Job and Family Services Director Jack Frech. “And at the same time, we are continuing to cut the programs that were put in place to help poor children and families, programs that provide food, clothing, shelter, job training, daycare, emergency utility assistance, medical care and services for the elderly.”

Apr 29, 2011

Nearly 400 area residents attend Athens Job Fair

Employers from around the region were taking applications, and several were hiring, at the job fair at the Athens Community Center on Wednesday, April 20.

This year’s event was the seventh-annual Area 14 One-Stop Job Fair, and more than 60 employers from southeast Ohio, Columbus and West Virginia took part. Hundreds of area residents attended the event so that they could apply for work and learn about job opportunities available in the region.

Apr 25, 2011

Task Force opposes plan to privatize state prisons

The Athens County Reentry Task Force opposes Ohio Governor John Kasich’s proposal to sell five of Ohio’s prisons and allow them to be run by for-profit companies.

Most of the discussion on the proposal so far has focused on the financial implications of the arrangement. The Reentry Task Force believes the Ohio General Assembly should reject the proposal because of the ethical issues it raises.

Apr 22, 2011

Additional comments from our clients about the challenges they face

As a follow-up to a recent post, here are additional comments from Athens County Job and Family Services clients, talking about the challenges they face meeting their basic needs:

“My husband has a full-time job, but it is barely enough to cover utility bills, mortgage, property taxes and household expenses. Now that gas prices are so high, we cannot afford car repairs and normal maintenance. My husband and I are both in poor health and cannot afford the medications, procedures and surgeries that would ease some of our pain. My husband has mini strokes and works very hard. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. My husband and I do not qualify for Medicaid. I can’t believe that citizens are treated this badly. “

Apr 4, 2011

Comments from a few Athens County families, discussing the challenges they face in trying to meet their basic needs

At a time when Ohio residents are already hurting, state leaders are planning to make even deeper cuts to the budgets of programs and services in place to help people living in poverty. We already do not provide enough assistance to help our neighbors meet their basic needs, and now we are making additional cuts in order to pay for tax cuts that benefit the rich.
Here are a few comments from Athens County residents, discussing the challenges they are currently facing in their lives:

Mar 25, 2011

Rich getting richer, poor getting poorer in Ohio

The 2005 income tax cuts severely impacted Ohio's budget and provided very little benefit to most Ohioans. The tax cuts have resulted in job losses, eliminations and reductions of programs and services, and major problems for many Ohio counties, particularly the Appalachian counties. For more information on how the tax cuts have hurt Ohio, including figures for all of the Ohio House and Senate districts that include the Appalachian counties, click here. For contact information for how to contact Athens County's state senator and state representative, click here. For information on how to contact all of the state senators in Ohio, click here. For information on how to contact all of the state representatives in Ohio, click here.

Mar 22, 2011

State budget proposal would take more than $2 million in funding away from programs to help Athens County residents living in poverty

• The current budget proposal from Governor John Kasich calls for a cut in funding of more than $2 million for Athens County Job and Family Services. This loss of funding is spread across several of our agency’s programs and will severely impact our programs and services.

Mar 14, 2011

In tough budget times, state leaders need to ask everyone to sacrifice, not just select groups of people

While state leaders have proclaimed loudly over the last few years that they don’t want to raise taxes on all Ohio residents, in reality they have been raising taxes on select groups of individuals such as public employees, people living in poverty, those with legal problems and those with health problems.

Mar 11, 2011

Tax cuts only helped the rich, need to be rolled back

The 2005 income tax reductions reduced the state income tax by 21%, costing the state more than $2 billion per year. While state leaders argued that the tax cuts would help economic development and put more money in the pockets of state residents, the state’s economy has only faltered since the tax cuts were put in place and the average state resident has seen very little benefit from the cuts.

Mar 9, 2011

The impact of income tax reductions on the state's budget deficit

While Ohio leaders debate where to cut funding in order to balance the state budget, it is important to remember that a large part of the budget deficit was caused by the state’s income tax reductions. These tax cuts overwhelmingly benefited the wealthiest Ohioans more than any other group of state residents.
Athens County Job and Family Services recently looked at how each county in Ohio is affected by tax cuts, social services, government jobs and other factors.
Click here to read the press release about the report.
Click here to view the research information for each county in Ohio.
Click here to view federal tax information for each county in Ohio.
Click here for a page with downloadable Excel files with the information for each county in the state.

Tax cuts have hurt Ohio residents

Athens County Job and Family Services Director Jack Frech wrote a letter to the editor recently discussing the state budget situation, the 2005 income tax reductions and Senate Bill 5. Click here to read a copy of the letter as published in The Athens NEWS.

Feb 11, 2011

Too poor to die

Ten years ago, Ohio eliminated the program that provided state money for indigent burials in order to save a relatively small amount in the state budget. Today, when so many people are struggling to get by and poverty is rampant, many families have no money to pay for funeral expenses when a loved one dies. Click below to read the story of on Athens County family faced with this tragic situation, and see how the community pulled together to help the family now that the state has turned its back on this responsibility.

Jan 26, 2011

The impact of welfare reform in America

In a country where nearly 7 million children are living in extreme poverty, how can anyone claim that welfare reform has been a success? Athens County Job and Family Services recently completed a report examining the impact that welfare reform has had in America. The report looks at the stated goals of welfare reform and shows how the reforms have affected people living in poverty. The report also includes commentaries from conservative and liberal leaders, poverty statistics, media reports on welfare reform and information on out-of-wedlock births. To read the news release about the report, click here. To go right to the report, click here.

Jan 13, 2011

America's welfare system

Athens County Job and Family Services recently compiled a great deal of information dealing with the 1996 Welfare Reform Act and the impact it has made. One main point of the research was to look at the stated goals of welfare reform and how the goals have or have not been met in the last 15 years. The agency also gathered together studies of welfare reform by different organizations, commentaries from conservative and liberal researchers, and newspaper clips dealing with the reform and its impact.

Click here to read over the information dealing with the Welfare Reform Act and the impact it has made.

Jan 7, 2011

Fast and Free Tax Assistance Center set to open soon, but needs volunteers

The Athens County Fast and Free Tax Assistance Center is scheduled to open later in January, but urgently needs more volunteers to help with the tax returns, answer phones, schedule appointments, greet customers and assist in other ways. Click here to read more about how you can volunteer at the Athens County Fast and Free Tax Assistance Center.