Services center gets home in county annex

     It’s official, Whitley County’s annex building on South Line Street will house a one-stop center to help residents apply for nearly all the social services available.
     With billions of dollars in funding unused throughout the nation, millions of which is right here in Indiana, the Benefit Bank is a program of Purdue Extension Health and Human Sciences and aims to streamline applications for those who need one or more social services to survive.
     Locally, the program will be administered at the county annex building by staff of the Whitley County Literacy Council and be called the Whitley County Literacy Council Resource Center.
     “It will be a huge benefit to those who are in need,” said Cindy Barnett, extension educator for the extension office.
     The county commissioners gave their final nod of approval Monday for the start of the program.
     “I think this is going to be a real benefit to a lot of people,” said Mike Schrader, county commissioner.
     Only eight counties in Indiana are using the Benefit Bank, and local training will begin Wednesday.
     The literacy council staff will screen applicants for what services they need and help them complete any and all applications needed for those programs.
     The staff at the resource center will then send all applications to the various agencies that offer assistance to those in need.
     Tracey Peterson, director of the literacy council, hopes the resource center can ease the burden on those who need services, especially people who struggle with reading and would otherwise need to make several stops and read piles of paperwork for applications.
     The Whitley County Community Foundation donated two computers and a printer-copier for the program, and furniture came from the former Work One office.
     “We’d like to get the resource center up and running before the weather gets cold so that people are actually getting the service before they’re in dire need of them,” Peterson said.
     She doesn’t plan on the county annex building being the permanent home for the program, especially as it grows and begins to serve more people.