ARC: A bridge over troubled watersRiver Falls offers many services to people who may be in need. The hungry can visit the food pantry or the twice monthly Tuesday banquet. Those put out by a fire might get clothes or a few nights lodging from the Salvation Army. Soon the homeless will have options at Our Neighbors’ Place.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
River Falls offers many services to people who may be in need. The hungry can visit the food pantry or the twice monthly Tuesday banquet. Those put out by a fire might get clothes or a few nights lodging from the Salvation Army. Soon the homeless will have options at Our Neighbors’ Place.
People seeking work can do it through the Workforce Resource Center. And the Free Clinic serves scores of people who have no means of medical care.
So where does a person turn if they just need gas money to get to work until payday? What if they can’t pay their utility bill and only lack a little money to make ends meet and get over the bumps in their road?
The relatively new River Falls-based Assistance & Resource Center revs up its efforts just in time to bridge those kinds of gaps.
“People usually start by calling churches,” said ARC board chairperson Rhonda Davison.
Especially with so many calls coming in these economic times, area churches faced a challenge in keeping up with requests.
As one way to better meet demand, those churches now refer people to ARC for many kinds of temporary help.
“It became evident a system needed to be in place to ensure monies were distributed fairly and for the purpose they were intended,” said Davison.
The organization formed in December last year. The River Falls Ministerium — a group of representatives from local churches who collaborate to meet community needs — helped found ARC and now help fund it, too.
Financial support also comes from many individual donors.
ARC’s mission is to: “Provide short-term financial assistance to members of the community to help them meet their basic needs and to provide access to additional resources.”
The organization serves people within the River Falls School District.
Davison said at the start, ARC was literally a cell phone and a file box that traveled around with the board member taking their turn in answering calls. Now it’s developed into a 501(c)(3) with volunteers, a coordinator answering the phone and a small, donated office space.
Its chairwoman said most of ARC’s first year has been spent getting organized. She said the organization is similar to Hudson-based Operation Help, which serves St. Croix County.
“What we’re trying to be is a resource, as well as some financial help,” said Davison.
People in need will find listed on the ARC brochure various places to find food, clothing, shelter, gasoline, jobs, subsidized housing, medical attention, pregnancy counseling, furniture and household items and other referral services.
ARC’s organizational partners include everything from the River Falls Police Department and Pierce County agencies to Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Abuse and the River Falls Motel, which offers discounted rooms in homeless situations.
“We do partner with other organizations to help where we can’t,” said Davison. “ARC’s philosophy is to react as a community of compassionate neighbors who care for one another in time of need. We will care for our neighbors with dignity and respect, regardless of religion, race, ethnic origin, lifestyle or disability.”
Davison said the most frequently requested assistance is for utilities and housing.
She often comes in contact with many, often desperate, people who need help paying their utility bills. Sometimes just a little help makes a huge difference.
ARC welcomes more help and volunteers answer the phone, serve on the board, raise funds, generate publicity or give financial support. Davison said the organization can always use donations.
Since it recently achieved its official non-profit status and became a 501(c)(3), it can begin applying for grants to help fund services, too.
ARC will focus on its core mission until it gains more momentum. Davison said once it is more firmly established, ARC might join forces with other organizations doing similar work.
She said about ARC services, “The clients have been so grateful, especially in these economic times.”
Learn more about the Assistance and Resource Center at its website: www.arcriverfalls.org or by calling 715-338-0755.
The Assistance & Resource Center:
n Needs more volunteers (see related story) and donations.