Vickie Ellis, program specialist for the Huntington County Chapter of the American Red Cross, learned an important lesson in the aftermath of the January fire at Carriage Place Apartments, in Huntington.
"It's very difficult for one organization - it's virtually impossible - to meet the needs of what individuals, when they have lost everything, are going to need," she says.
That's why Ellis recently decided to partner with Valerie Fields, director of Crossroad Connections, in Huntington, to coordinate the outreach for needs of Huntington County residents recovering from emergency situations in the future.
Authorities contact the Red Cross after emergencies to render food, clothing and medication to affected parties. After that, though, Fields says the plan is for the Red Cross to "call us and we'll kind of collaborate and coordinate the outreach for the rest of the needs that (affected parties) have, maybe it's furniture or appliances, the extra stuff.
"And that way we don't have duplication of items being given, because a lot of times there's many people in the community who want to help, but they don't know what they need to give or how they can help. So, they can call us to find out what the people need and that's just going to kind of help keep the focus on what the true needs are and make sure all the needs are filled."
Crossroad Connection's partnership with the Red Cross is just one new way in which the one-year-old organization will help residents in Huntington County this year.
"This year we're concentrating on our mentor program," Fields says. "It's going to be a 12-month mentor program where we work with the families that are low to no income that are just kind of needing a little direction."
Assistance provided by the program, Fields says, will include help with budgeting, getting clients signed up for employment or parenting classes should they desire and showing them good housekeeping skills.
The program is why Fields is in the process of forging another local partnership, with Huntington House.
"We've been talking with Huntington House so that when families come in there and once they leave the 30 to 60-day program, we can kind of continue working with that family for the next 12 months in guiding them," Fields says.
It's a move that's already paying off.
"We have a family now that we've been able to get into a home," Fields says.
In the immediate future for Crossroad Connections is a benefit dinner on April 27 at Café of Hope, in Huntington, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Chicken and noodles will be served and there will be a performance by Classic Voice, along with a silent auction. Tickets can be purchased at the Crossroad Connections office, located in the Life Church building at 950 E. State St., Huntington, Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"It's basically a time for people to get to know what's happening at Crossroads, what we've achieved this year, what's happening for next year," Fields says.
Complete caption: Valerie Fields (left), director of Crossroad Connections, in Huntington, stands with Vickie Ellis, program specialist for the Huntington County Chapter of the American Red Cross. The two organizations recently partnered together to coordinate the outreach for needs of Huntington County residents recovering from emergency situations.