ST. GEORGE – With Utah law makers refusing federal dollars to extend unemployment benefits to Utah residents, Dixie Care and Share officials anticipate many more individuals and families needing assistance.
Legislators voted to reject a $100 million in federal funds that would extend employment benefits for an addition 13 months for about 20,000 Utah residents whose benefits are ending. With Utah’s employment rate at 7.5 percent many families have fallen on hard times and have come to depend on government unemployment benefits. Some of these families have very little resources to turn to.
Shelters such as the St. George Dixie Care and Share offer much needed help to members of the community. The organization runs a food bank as well as temporary shelter and transitional housing for individuals and families. With unemployment benefits running out, many more families will experience desperate circumstances and turn to services offered by DCS.
Director of Operations Robert Schaefer said the shelter has experienced a more than twenty percent increase in clients in the last year and a half. Schaefer said almost forty percent of the people that use the services of the center are families with children. He said the food bank served 577 families with emergency food boxes in the month of March in St. George. Families that are well below the poverty line can receive a monthly emergency food box and can access the organizations pantry program.
The pantry program provides day old perishables to families that need support to make ends meet. Schaefer said anyone can use the pantry service, all they need to do is sign their name and the number of individuals in their household and they can receive free food.
DCS provides temporary shelter for families such as the young Snargrass family of four. Andrew Snargrass, 21, lives at the shelter with his wife and two young children, a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old. Snargrass said he is grateful to DCS for providing a warm meal and shelter for his family while they are going through a difficult time.
“I would encourage people to donate their time, toys, food and clothes to the shelter because people here need it,” Snargrass said. “Job offers from the community can help us become self reliant.”
Schaefer said the organization relies largely on donations to operate the shelter and members of the community opening their hearts to the less fortunate.
“We always need financial assistance, although food feeds the families, it does not keep the doors open or pay the power bill,” Schaefer said.
The center will host an open house at the end of the month so the community can tour the facilities and hopefully donate towards the cause.
DCS serves Utah residents and anyone who needs their help. Saja Husnic is a Bosnian refugee and has lived in the United States for fourteen years. She said she has always been able to find work but in the past few years she found herself unable to care for herself and her 9-year-old daughter. Husnic arrived from Las Vegas last week and obtained a place to stay at the center. She heard about St George through a friend. Husnic said her daughter has started school and the staff at DCS has done their best to help them settle in.
“You know, kids can make it through anything,” Husnic said. “She likes her school and that she can watch TV here; I think she’s ok.”
The center has many success stories, such as Staff Supervisor Dean Orlando. He is a former resident of DCS. Orlando experienced major medical problems that put him into bankruptcy and into total despair. He is thankful that the shelter was there for him when he needed help and is happy to give back.
“People end up here through bad circumstance, some of no fault of their own.” Orlando said. “We are here to help them get restarted.”
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