From left, Shirley McFarlin and James McFarlin of the James McFarlin Community Development Inc. pose with Whitakers Mayor Esterine Pitt.

Contributed photo

From left, Shirley McFarlin and James McFarlin of the James McFarlin Community Development Inc. pose with Whitakers Mayor Esterine Pitt.

Local volunteers offer aid in a time of need

From Contributed Reports

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By using an online tool called the Benefit Bank James McFarlin Community Development and SWIM Network volunteers are helping residents of Nash and Edgecombe counties simplify the process of applying for state and federal supports like energy assistance, student financial aid and food assistance.

James McFarlin Community Development of Whitakers has partnered with The Benefit Bank of North Carolina (TBB-NC), and SWIM Network of Rocky Mount to train local volunteers to assist individuals and families with various federal and state work supports.

At both of these private neighborhood locations local volunteers are helping residents of Nash and Edgecombe counties simplify the process of applying for a wide range of state and federal supports such as food and nutrition services (food stamps), federal tax filing for prior three years, FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid, veterans educational benefits, medical programs (adults and children), Work First cash assistance and voter registration.

Once clients complete their forms they are referred to their respective DSS offices in their area to complete the final eligibility screening process.

“We have seen this project bless so many individuals and families in the surrounding counties, and we are excited to partner with two great organizations to help meet the needs of those we’re serving,” said Bishop James McFarlin, founder of Ray of Hope Christian Center.

Detrick Clark, Central Regional Coordinator for TBB-NC, said: “SWIM Network was instrumental in helping us to expand the services of TBB-NC in Edgecombe, Nash, Halifax and Northampton counties by connecting us to Bishop McFarlin and the Ray of Hope Christian Center, volunteers and other community-based organization.

“We are truly grateful for all of the joint efforts we’ve seen to help serve these communities.”

The Benefit Bank of North Carolina is a member of the national Work Supports Initiative, managed by MDC and its technology partner Solutions for Progress (owner and operator of The Benefit Bank).

By combining grassroots outreach, powerful technology, and strategic partnerships, MDC is able to connect low- and moderate-income individuals and families in North Carolina and other states with work supports in the form of tax credits, public benefits and student financial aid.

James McFarlin Community Development is assisting residents with TBB-NC services at the Ray of Hope Christian Center every Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. and every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The address to Ray of Hope Christian Center is 12120 Fisher Road, Whitakers, NC 27891.

Anyone interested in scheduling an appointment, volunteering or learning more about this FREE program should call 977-0103 or 972 SWIM (7946) or visit the TBB-NC website at www.tbb-nc.org.