Website a clearinghouse for help
- Published: November 20, 2014
Locals who need help will soon have a “digital case manager” to connect them with the right resources.
Yellow Springs Help, at http://www.yellowspringshelp.org, will allow villagers to search for services from A to Z — currently Abuse to Youth Services — and everything in between.
Sponsored by the Yellow Springs Human Relations Commission and expected to go live early next year, the new website will be a central clearinghouse for local and regional services for those in need.
The first step is for local providers to add their information to the growing online directory by attending a two-hour website training seminar. The first training is 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at Friends Care Community Skilled Nursing Center, 150 E. Herman St. Those planning to attend should RSVP by Monday, Nov. 17, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Attendees must bring a laptop or tablet with WiFi capability. Providers can also inquire about future trainings or one-on-one tutorials by emailing.
Once fully populated, the website may include resources for domestic violence, transgender support, eviction, divorce, pregnancy, smoking cessation, housing, alcohol abuse, energy work, job training, utility bill assistance, thrift stores, meals, race relations, burial services, anger management, recycling and much more.
Providers include non-profits, public service agencies and faith-based organizations. Even for-profit companies can be listed as long as they offer discounts based upon need or programs aimed at community members in need. The list of local providers currently includes Terry Fox of re-sale shop Atomic Fox, who helps people find furniture, local counselor Joan Chappelle, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Yellow Springs Chapter, affordable housing non-profit Home, Inc., the Dayton Veterans Administration and more.
Yellow Springs Help is a project of the Village’s Human Relations Commission, a group charged in its founding documents with creating and maintaining a resource guide, according to HRC Secretary Kathryn Hitchcock. The effort has been spearheaded by Linda Rudawski, who recently completed a two-year term and continues to volunteer on the effort with assistance from Hitchcock, HRC Council liason Brian Housh, and Antioch College student Kabbeh Davies, who is working this fall as a Miller Fellow, and this coming spring as a co-op student, on the project.
Housh said he believes there is a need in the community for easily accessible information assembled in one place. As a Council member for the last two years, Housh has received an average of one to two phone calls per week from villagers seeking such help.
“I noticed this real gap of how do I connect people to those resources,” Housh said. “As far as I know there has been no master list ever.”
The project fits within the mission of HRC to promote harmony in the village and fight discrimination, which includes helping those who are low-income, unemployed or suffering from mental or physical disabilities, Housh added. The ordinance that created the HRC charges the group to “Facilitate connections between organizations in the Village that touch such issues and trends, and maintain a list of such organizations and contact information.”
Resource guides printed by other area service agencies were notoriously out-of-date, which is why HRC decided to pursue an online resource instead, Rudawski said. She also sees a growing need in the community for access to resources.
“A paper handout is out of date the moment it gets printed,” Rudawski said. “Poverty is high and there is a lot of need in the community. There’s just no central place for people to go.”
According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, the local poverty rate doubled between 2000 and 2010 to 15 percent of the population and is now above state and national averages.
Part of the Yellow Springs Help project includes training local police dispatchers, librarians, Senior Center volunteers and other front-line providers how to use the system to answer questions. That way those without Internet access can still find the information, while those taking constant inquiries can better direct people to the right services.
Yellow Springs Help was funded through the HRC, which received $10,000 of discretionary spending last year from the Village. The budget for the project is $1,000 for website design and hosting and marketing. The Village is additionally providing in-kind office support. The website was modeled after a successful online resource guide used by Logan County, where Rudawski is a social worker.
Other projects HRC has organized or funded this year have included a policing forum, Mental Health First Aid training, Day of Disabilities, NAMI Yellow Springs, youth self-defense classes, anti-bullying activities and the Bryan Youth Center, among others.