The Benefit Bank program at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Center in Gloverville is hoping to reach and help more people in need.
The program, which is a part of the Benefit Bank of South Carolina network, helps people register and apply for benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
It also helps people complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, assist with voter registration, and file state and federal taxes for people who have a $60,000 or less adjusted gross income.
It serves people living in North Augusta, Warrenville, Gloverville, Bath, Langley, Clearwater and Graniteville.
Most people who come into the center are seeking to apply for SNAP benefits, said Sister Catherine Marie Lowe, the center’s coordinator of outreach services.
“A lot of people come in thinking they’re just going to get food stamps but when they come in, we do a quick check and that quick check tells them other programs they may be qualified or eligible for,” she said. “They are often surprised they are eligible for other services, services they didn’t know exist.”
When inputting information, they ask each person for a phone number, but many times, the answer is that they don’t have a phone. In those instances, people who meet certain eligibility requirements may be able to receive a cell phone with 200 free minutes a month provided through the government, she said.
The center is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Wednesdays, its staffers also visit various sites to sign people up for The Benefit Bank program, an outreach they began in August.
“We were also concerned about the elderly traveling from one place to another and having the sites makes it easier for them to get to us,” Lowe said.
They visit four sites in Warrenville, Gloverville, Clearwater and Graniteville, but as they reach out to more people, additional sites can be added to the list, Lowe said.
Registering for The Benefit Bank isn’t limited to those who are unemployed or on fixed incomes, Lowe said.
“We know it’s hard times for people, even working people,” the coordinator said. “Sometimes I think that we have the idea that just because someone has a job, that they don’t need help. The reality is that sometimes that job doesn’t pay enough for people to get their needs met.”
Those interested in registering and applying for benefits through The Benefit Bank or learning about other services offered should make an appointment by calling (803) 593-3623.