Epping is one of twelve towns served by Rockingham Community Action’s (RCA’s) Raymond Outreach Center, along with Brentwood, Candia, Deerfield, East Kingston, Epping, Exeter, Fremont, Kingston, Newfields, Northwood, Nottingham, and Raymond. Eleven of these twelve towns donated a total of $95,103 to RCA in 2012. RCA officials will be at Epping’s Town Deliberative Session on Tuesday, February 5th, to request a donation of $11,300 from the Town of Epping, which would represent 11% of the total funding received from these twelve towns. This request is based on RCA’s statistics which show that Epping residents receive, depending upon the individual program, between 10% and 12% of the services and service dollars distributed by RCA at the Raymond Outreach Center. At its Public Hearing on January 12th, Epping’s Town Budget Committee heard support for RCA from several Epping residents, and voted 4 to 3 to support RCA’s request.

There are 22 discrete programs and services, in addition to the daily information/referral and other miscellaneous service contacts made by RCA staff, offered to area residents in the Raymond Outreach Center. Some of these programs are federally funded (Fuel Assistance being the largest of these) and RCA acts as the administrative conduit through which this benefit is made available to Epping residents.  Other programs (Gift of Warmth, Food Pantries, others) are solely RCA initiatives, developed and maintained by the efforts of RCA staff and administration.

It is especially worth noting that the Gift of Warmth program alone brought $8,500 in cash grants to Epping residents last year, a figure which is 75% of RCA’s request to the Town of Epping. The “Gift of Warmth” is a partnership of RCA, Seacoast Media Group and other local nonprofits. It is designed to provide heating assistance funds beyond what the agencies and local welfare can fund on their own and assists families in need, who, for any number of reasons, may not qualify for federal assistance but cannot afford to buy heating fuel. This is one of many programs and initiatives which would not exist without the efforts of RCA staff to meet the needs we see in the community at large. We become aware of these unmet needs by being a member of the community, as we have been for many years in the Epping area.

Last year Epping residents received 12% of the grants and service dollar value distributed by RCA staff in the Raymond Outreach Center. In addition to the 22 programs and services administered by RCA at the Raymond Center, RCA staff provides many other services and supports which are not so easily quantifiable, but mean a great deal to those in need:

Free daily bread, pastry and well as deli items from Hannaford’s Weatherization and Heating emergency referrals Thanksgiving & Christmas programs – meals and gifts distributed to Epping residents Distribution of other non-food household items: diapers, shampoo, disposable razors, etc. Distribution of food and gasoline gift cards for emergency purposes Homeless outreach, either through 211 referrals or walk-ins. On site homeless support each Wednesday.

We take applications for the Warm Clothing Program funded by the Exeter Chamber of Commerce. Last year 4 Epping families received $800, more than half the amount raised  by the Chamber. Distribution of vouchers for the Wonderland Thrift Shop for clothing purchase.  Distribution of donated clothing on an as-needed basis.  WIC uses our office space for appointments and their commodity food pick up day for elderly clients. CSFP commodity surplus foods for elderly and for households no longer eligible for WIC based on age and income We take referrals for Medline (personal emergency response system) Our Community Room at 55 Prescott Road in Raymond is available for local meetings and functions. We make our fax machine available for people to send in documentation DHHS, Housing Authorities, and other agencies to assure timely consideration of applications.

Administrators at RCA recognize that in lean times it is hard for people to decide where their charitable dollars may be best spent; and harder still for local officials to confidently assure  their public they are spending the Town’s funds in the most responsible way possible. RCA wishes to remind Epping citizens, however, that over the years RCA has become established as the community’s source for essential services for their most needy neighbors, and that RCA has done this in the most cost-effective way possible. RCA’s core services are not duplicated by any other agencies serving the residents of the area.

RCA staff welcome any interested person or group to visit their Outreach Center at 55 Prescott Road in Raymond and see the range of services provided there, and they ask the voters of Epping to support their ongoing work with Epping residents by voting to support RCA’s funding request for the coming fiscal year. Keith Bates, Director of Community Services, is available at 431-2911 to answer any questions you may have.

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