Thursday, June 29, the Nevada Good Samaritan Committee and members of several local churches will be hosting a hamburger and hot dog cookout in the St. Patrick Catholic Church, on the corner of 10th Street and Lincoln Highway. The proceeds from this cookout will go to help fund the Nevada Good Samaritan Fund. The menu includes hamburger or hot dog, chips, veggies, dessert and a drink. A free-will offering will be accepted.

What is the Good Samaritan Fund and why is it important?

For many people, the Good Samaritan Fund has been the difference between light and darkness, between warmth and cold, between shelter and the street, and between getting to work and unemployment. The Good Samaritan Fund provides limited financial assistance to eastern Story county residents in dire need. They provide utility assistance, the difference between light and darkness; rent assistance, the difference between shelter and the street and gas vouchers, the difference between work and unemployment. It is a fund that is never flush with money; indeed, it is not designed to be, its purpose is to help. As you can imagine, with recent economic times, there is no lack of customers for the services of the Good Samaritan Fund. The fund is not a magic money machine that spits out funds to anyone. In order to qualify, recipients must have already exhausted aid from MICA (Mid Iowa Community Action) and Story County Community Services. In addition, they must provide documentation from their landlord or utility company. Even if approved, with few exceptions, the maximum aid is $200. The money goes directly to the landlord or utility company, not to the individual. Gas vouchers are given so a person can get to work or a doctor’s appointment. The gas vouchers are for $15. As you can see, the funds are spread quite thin to help as many as possible.

Where does the Good Samaritan Fund get its money?

Good Samaritan Fund is funded entirely by local churches and private donations. Some churches have it as part of their church budget; some have special collections. Many individuals send donations directly. The Good Samaritan Fund wouldn’t exist without the good people of Nevada and Eastern Story County.

Typically, how does the process work?

The fund is distributed through St. Patrick’s office. A client is usually referred by one of the other agencies in the county. After an initial phone interview to determine if the applicant meets the qualifications, a personal interview is scheduled. There are several volunteers from across the Nevada community who serve as interviewers. At the interview, the applicant must provide the necessary paperwork to process the application, including the rent or utility bill, and the notification that they have used all of the funds available to them from MICA and Story County Community Services. A typical interview evening will see three to five applicants. The interview is an important part of the process. The fact that the applicant shows up is a sign of their commitment. Sometimes, as important as the money is, having someone to listen to your story and not be judgmental is equally important. After the interview, the landlord or utility is contacted by a member of the office staff to verify the information. After the information is verified the assistance is awarded, based on the need and the recommendation of the interviewer.

How can I help?

First, come out and have some fun and a burger on June 29 at St. Patrick’s Church. If you’ve ever been to a function at any of the area churches, you know the desserts alone will be worth coming out for! If you want to make Good Samaritan Fund a part of your regular charitable contributions, you can contribute through your church if they are Good Samaritan Fund sponsors, or mail your check made out to the Good Samaritan Fund directly to Good Samaritan Fund, c/o St. Patrick Church, 1110 11th Street, Nevada, IA 50201. On behalf of the hundreds of people helped by the Good Samaritan Fund over the years, thank you.