Lifelines Counseling Services continues to expand its offerings across Mobile County and surrounding areas by partnering with the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) to provide a new program, A-RESET– standing for Alabama Resources for Enrichment, Self-Sufficiency and Employability Training.
According to its website, Lifelines Counseling Services’ mission is to “help individuals and families live more productive lives through counseling, assistance, referrals and education.” By calling the 211 line anyone is able to receive resources and information they need in order to help them get where they need to be, whether physically, mentally or financially.
Launched in August 2018, the A-RESET program is dedicated to providing resources in employment and training to individuals who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that among the 264,399 households in District One (comprising a majority of Lifeline’s clients), 36,747 households receive SNAP benefits.
When someone calls the 211 line they are first asked a series of questions regarding different demographics, such as: How many people live in your household? What is your ZIP code? Do you receive SNAP benefits?
Those who do receive SNAP benefits and are interested in the program are asked if they will be interested in participating in the A-RESET program.
“We help them plan and set goals, we complete what we call an IEP, which is an Individual Employment Plan, through a partnership with the DHR, human resources office in Mobile and Prichard,” explained Mary Howard, resources manager at Lifelines Counseling. “At this point in time it’s voluntary … it’s not mandatory. They sign up on their own, and we navigate them through the process of employment to figure out what are the barriers and what do they need to do to become self-sufficient.”
Over the span of five months, from August through December, Lifelines received 33 consent forms in order to collaborate with DHR and created 20 IEPs for individuals. Although it may seem A-RESET has not gained much traction on paper, the program is still in its beginning stages.
Sarah Bumgarner, marketing manager at Lifelines, said in order for the program to flourish they need to educate others about the resources they offer and how they can help. Bumgarner points out “sometimes it’s just that we don’t know what we don’t know,” which is an aspect Lifelines focuses on by showing people what they need to know in order to better provide for themselves or their family.
By providing them with this guidance it is Lifelines’ hope to help individuals get off SNAP benefits or aid them in finding long-term solutions to whatever has prompted them to call.
“We help them overcome barriers, put them in contact with the right services to assist them, direct them toward training opportunities that may be just what they need to achieve their career goals,” Howard said.
For the past 12 years, Lifelines Counseling Services has facilitated 211 calls for the local United Way 211, which is sponsored by United Way Southwest Alabama.
“We have specific staff that are trained just to answer, and through that line it has opened up the ability to do other things,” Bumgarner said, explaining the plethora of resources and referrals Lifelines provides.
Along with the A-RESET initiative, Lifelines offers utility assistance, shelter/housing, food assistance, rent payment assistance and tax preparation assistance, among other things. The organization received more than 4,000 calls last year regarding these needs from individuals in Mobile, Washington, Clarke, Choctaw, Escambia, Baldwin, Conecuh and Monroe counties.
Another program Lifelines provides is Help Me Grow Alabama. By collaborating with 211 Connects Alabama, they aim to connect families with young and developing children to nearby health and developmental screening resources.
In order to receive counseling or assistance, Lifelines reminds you to “keep calm, call 211,” and for emergencies dial 911.
If you would like to learn more about the programs and assistance Lifelines Counseling Services provides, visit lifelinesmobile.org. If you’re interested in donating or volunteering, you can reach Lifelines at 251-602-0909.
This page is available to our local subscribers. Click here to join us today and get the latest local news from local reporters written for local readers. The best deal is found by clicking here. Check it out now.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here