GLAMA Emergency Assistance Fund

Many churches in Lexington and the surrounding county have some kind of emergency aid program. At First Presbyterian, we have the Minister’s Discretionary Fund. These funds are used mainly to help individuals and families with rent or utility bills. Many of those who come seeking help have had higher bills than expected or have been out of work due to an illness. Unfortunately, there are those who either seek to game the system or who are chronically bad at handling money. It takes a great deal of time to figure out the legitimacy of the need of the person coming for help. Most of the pastors I know through the Greater Lexington Area Minister’s Association (GLAMA) just do not have the time to do the vetting work necessary, and thus they make a decision based on a gut feeling.

Many of those coming for help also have bills that are so high that one church simply cannot meet the need. As a result, the person seeking help must go around to multiple churches in order to gather up enough to meet the need.

Over the years the pastors in GLAMA have tried a number of different ways to address the issues I just explained. None have worked very well, and very soon the pastors would revert back the “gut-feeling-make-the-rounds” method.

Over the summer of 2016, GLAMA held a series of meetings with some of the local helping agencies to see if we could finally find a method for distributing emergency aid in an efficient and effective manner. When Davidson County Community Action mentioned that they would be willing to hire someone to do the vetting work, GLAMA designed a process that we hoped would finally address the above issues. Here is a brief outline of the how the process is meant to work:

A full time position (Community Resource Coordinator) has been created and housed at
Community Action. The CRC will discern the real need of families/individuals seeking emergency help and then coordinate the resources of the whole Lexington / Davidson County community (DSS, Salvation Army, United Way, GLAMA). Community Action, the United Way, and funds from the State of North Carolina will cover a portion of the persons salary. GLAMA will commit $10,000 a year toward this person’s salary. This person will be solely an employee of Community Action.

An Emergency Aid Fund has been created and is under the direction of the officers of
GLAMA. The goal will be to raise at least $30,000 a year for this fund. (More would be
better!)The money in this fund will be a third tier fund to be used to meet needs that cannot be met by other resources in the community.

The Process:
1. All individuals or families coming to churches looking for emergency aid will be directed to Community Action on Talbert Boulevard.
2. The Community Resource Coordinator (CRC) will interview and verify the need.
3. The CRC will attempt to match those seeking help with funds from other sources (DSS, State of North Carolina, Salvation Army, energy share programs from utility companies, etc.)
4. The balance of the need will be met with the GLAMA Emergency Aid Fund.
5. Each month the CRC will send a report of the persons helped and the amount to the
treasurer of GLAMA. The Treasurer will then write one check to cover the total amount
for the month. A report will be given to GLAMA on at least a quarterly basis. A report
will be given to participating churches on a semi-annual basis.

Expectations for the use of the fund.
1. Ordinarily funds will be used for utility or rent assistance. Exceptions will be approved by
the GLAMA President and Treasurer.
2. First time gifts have no strings attached.
3. Those needing help a second time will be required to enroll in financial education classes
taught by Community Action.

Expectations of Participating Churches
• Most churches have some sort of emergency aid fund often administered through the
pastor. It is suggested that each participating church designate 75% of their
discretionary fund for the GLAMA Emergency Aid Fund. This leaves some money at the
local church level to meet needs that are beyond the purview of the GLAMA Fund, and
yet at the same time provide significant funds for a more streamlined and efficient
process that reflects good stewardship principles.
• Gifts from churches will be made directly to the GLAMA Emergency Fund.
• Individuals who would like to give to the GLAMA Emergency Fund will be directed to
give through their local church designated for the GLAMA Emergency Fund.
• GLAMA would welcome the Emergency Aid Fund begin built into the mission budget of
local churches.

Finally, the President of GLAMA has a seat on the board of directors of Community Action, and GLAMA retains oversight and stewardship of the Emergency Aid Fund. GLAMA has a goal of finding 20 churches who would be willing to contribute $2,000 a year. However, any church can choose to participate at any level, and churches who cannot contribute financially are still encouraged to refer persons to Community Action.

Churches who have already given money for the program are: First Reformed UCC, First United Methodist, First Reformed UCC, Fairmont Presbyterian, First Presbyterian, Holly Grove Lutheran, First Lutheran Church, First Baptist Church.

This new process has been in action since the first of January, and it has been working very well. The amount of time I spend helping individuals has lessened significantly, and the number of people helped in the first month was 30. Eight of those helped have signed up to participate in Community Action’s financial management and anti-poverty programs.

I am excited about this new process for helping people and am looking forward to seeing this expand throughout the county. If you have any questions about this new way of meeting emergency needs, please ask! I’ll do my best to answer.

May each of you be blessed.
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee