Social Concerns

ready to help families who have fallen on hard times get back on their feet

November 15, 2007 at 9:29 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Outgoing president of the St. Charles Parish Social Concerns Organization, Colette Lottinger, says although the facility is there to help those in need, residents need to be more proactive in helping themselves.

"We want to help people, not enable them," she said.  "We've seen an increase in landlord tenant complaints and sometimes, what I see is that people need help in learning how to manage the money they have."

Lottinger's term ends in December and Rev. Robert Zehr, the retired pastor of the Mennonite Church in Des Allemands will be the returning president.

"This is not the first time Rev. Zehr has served as president but we have lots of new faces,” Lottinger said.
The organization has been in operation for parish residents since 1981 to assist families with things like bill payments, medication needs, utility payments and some minor housing repairs.

"If a family is going to be evicted, or if their water is going to be turned off, we will help them," Lottinger, president of the board said. "Because of some problems with people taking advantage of the situation and coming in for assistance more than once within a few months, we have a tracking system in place.

“We realize that sometimes people fall on hard times and we are here to help them get through that trying period. It makes us feel good to see them turn their life around.”
Lottinger says funding to assist families doesn't come from the federal government unless it is a specially earmarked case, like money to help those evicted.

"The organization gets money through the thrift store , local donations and some funding from the United Way. We can use the funds to help residents with a variety of needs not just bill payment because we're not limited by using government funds alone," she said. "We once helped someone repair a roof that was damaged because of Hurricane Katrina."

Lottinger says the organization helps families who are victims of fire and also provides food items donated from churches in the parish and purchased by Social Concerns.
"We know that families shouldn't have to live in poor conditions," she said. "But we want to them to take responsibility for their own well-being too."

Lottinger says on one occasion a family that the organization helped stay in a hotel until they got on their feet, damaged the room.

"We helped a mother and three teenagers who had gotten evicted and were basically living on the streets, by paying to house them in a hotel room in the area until they found some place to stay," she said. "We got a call from the hotel manager after the family had  moved out that the room was damaged. We would rather not help people who won't try to help themselves."

Lottinger says the organization needs donations and ask that people bring items during open hours to avoid theft and rain damage.

“It’s better for people to donate usable items from 8:30 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday.” she said.
Lottinger says some people work very hard to make ends meet and should be applauded for this.

“Other people decide that the government owes them a living and would rather play the system.”

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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