Capital Area Community Services (CACS) plays key role in Outreach support
by Jo Mayer and Paul Crandall
While it sometimes feels like we are on our own—to sink or swim—many groups and government agencies dedicate their time, effort and resources to those who need a helping hand. Stockbridge Community Outreach plays a primary role helping those living in the Stockbridge Community School District, but we enlist bigger organizations when our clients need more help than we can give.
According to Outreach Director Gwen Reid, Capital Area Community Services, Inc., a 501(c)(3) founded in 1964, is one such place.
“CACS serves as a second line of defense for our Ingham County clients in crisis,” she said. “When Outreach doesn’t have the means to totally cover utility bills, for example, the cost may be shared with CACS. I also have sent people with complicated cases to the CACS Mason office, where they can coordinate benefits offered by different agencies,” Reid added.
According to the CACS website, CACS aims to establish a relationship with individuals and families, assess their needs and eligibility for various types of public aid, and walk them through the application processes. CACS helps clients understand the rules attached to various types of support and helps them navigate the process of documenting their assets, income, and expenses, which can be complex. CACS also helps to ensure families are getting the benefits they are entitled to and can make recommendations for things like job training. Another CACS service: helping clients complete the MI Bridges application and interacting with their case workers.
People don’t necessarily have to go to Mason to get help through CACS. For example, local residents can sign up for prepacked boxes of food that CACS delivers to cars waiting in the parking lot outside the Outreach office (corner of Elm and Cherry Streets in Stockbridge).
Marina Poroshin, Rural Ingham center coordinator, explained how to sign up for the food pick-up. “They can sign up over the phone and then either bring proof of income and ID to their first pick up or bring it to the Outreach office.”
Folks looking to avail themselves of CACS-related food deliveries can read through a convenient list of guidelines (see sidebar) to get an idea about the requirements of the two main programs—the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).
Poroshin explained that CACS also helps with Medicare and Medicaid. She added that the window for changing your Medicare benefits is closing December 7.
“We do lots of referrals and offer information. People should not hesitate to call us and we’ll do what we can to help them out.”
Poroshin stressed that the CACS relationship with Outreach is critical for the agency’s success locally. “Without the help of Stockbridge Community Outreach staff and volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to reach and serve nearly as many clients. They are our frontline workers and we really appreciate Gwen and her cadre of volunteers.”
For more information about Capital Area Community Services, please contact the Rural Ingham Service Center (Hours: 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday) by phone at 517-676-1065 email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting 218 East Maple St., Mason, MI 48854. Or go to their website at https://cacs-inc.org/about-us/
CACS offers many programs not mentioned here—please check their website for a more complete listing.
*NOTE: Regarding Medicaid sign up: From Michigan Legal Help website (https://michiganlegalhelp.org): Have income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level ($16,000 for a single person or $33,000 for a family of four). Everyone who gets Medicaid will be required to go through a redetermination once per year. Make sure MDHHS has your current contact information so you get any renewal information MDHHS sends. Do this both online at michigan.gov/mibridges and by contacting your local office.
This column is sponsored by Stockbridge Community Outreach, our local food pantry, crisis, and referral center located in the Stockbridge Activity Center (old middle school) near Cherry and Elm Streets in Stockbridge. Office hours are 1-3pm, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and by appointment. Outreach49285@gmail.com, 517-851-7285, or find us on Facebook.