2012-10-04 / Front Page

Fair to feature local options

Community resources are highlighted in event

MANISTIQUE – The Schoolcraft County Community Resource Fair is returning and promises to offer residents even more information and resources. According to one organizer, the event is the perfect opportunity for community members to explore options – from schooling to food assistance – available to them.

Nancy Demers, coordinator of the Schoolcraft County Coalition for Safe and Stable Housing, said the event was originally called a “Connect Event”, but organizers renamed it in 2011 and posted its largest attendance ever. Once again, organizers are hoping people will come out to see what is available in the community.

“The fair is designed to bring programs and their representatives out of their offices into a location so people who are interested in understanding what program resources are out there can actually go in a casual atmosphere … talking to representatives from each agency that will be there,” she said.

Those attending the fair include: Delta- Schoolcraft Great Start Collaborative, the Schoolcraft County Parent Coalition, Good Neighbor Services, Habitat for Humanity, a Schoolcraft County Veteran Services counselor, mBank, the Manistique School and Public Library, Manistique Senior Center, Project Backpack, Medical Care Access Coalition, and more. The Luce, Mackinac, Alger, Schoolcraft County Health Department will be on hand for information and shots, and a lunch will be provided, free of charge. A coffee station will also be available, and gift bags filled with various items will be given away.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Mobile Vet Center is scheduled to make an appearance, said Demers, though, like last year, it could be called to a different location before it can make it to the fair. The center provides a multitude of services for veterans in need, she added.

According to Demers, the fair will serve as a valuable resource for everyone, especially those just encountering unique or unfamiliar situations.

“This year, we have learned that people who didn’t otherwise know that resource programs were available … because of economic changes, mortgage issues, health issues that might not have been issues in the past,” she said. “A lot of the different populations that we serve have never needed to explore these resources and now we’re receiving phone calls where people really are wanting to know, ‘Where is help if I need assistance?’”

Residents can even find useful information on home maintenance or veteran’s services, Demers added. Meeting with the service providers outside of the office allows attendees to gather first-time or additional information in a casual, comfortable environment, she said.

“We’re reaching a whole different level of people who’ve never been hungry before, and their food dollar isn’t stretching as much,” she said.

For this group, Demers explained the resource fair is the perfect place to visit to gather all the information regarding community programs or assistance that may help. For others, who may be familiar with the programs available, the fair can provide updated information, she noted.

“We’re offering people new information that they take back to their households or their families or their friends and network that information so people understand where assistance is if they have a problem,” she said. “We found that some people come to this fair just to experience the information so they can refer their friends and neighbors and relatives.”

Whatever the reason information is needed, Demers stated she hopes everyone will take advantage of the opportunity the fair provides.

“This connects everybody together. Even though our community is small … we have everything we need in this community to help, to provide information where information is needed, and we have the resources available in our community for that purpose,” she said. “With all of the agencies that are coming, there isn’t a reason why a person wouldn’t be able to gather information to network.”

The fair will take place on Oct. 12 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church on 315 Walnut Street, Manistique. For more information, contact Nancy Demers at 341-5451.

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