FaithWorks sees surge in requests

COVINGTON - FaithWorks, a local nonprofit organization that assists low-income residents with rent and utility payments, is seeing unprecedented numbers of people requesting help, according to Executive Director Dennis Cheek.

The organization is getting 15 or more requests per day, and recently broke a record with 25 applications for assistance filed in one day, Cheek said.

"We have seen folks on the lower end of the pay scale coming in but now we are seeing a whole spectrum of folks," he said. "We had one lady come in who has two degrees who lost her job. It was the first time she ever had to seek assistance. The times we're going through right now, we're seeing folks who ordinarily would not walk through our doors in situations where they've had to look for extra help."

FaithWorks recently received $40,000 from the Covington-Newton County Housing Authority, a reimbursement of funds paid by the organization for repairs to its new site on Turner Lake Circle.

The FaithWorks Executive Committee voted to put $30,000 in a money market account and keep $10,000 in reserve each calendar year. However, the $10,000 reserve has already been used, prompting the Executive Committee to release another $3,000.

Currently, FaithWorks gives up to $150 per household, but that amount may have to be decreased in order to continue providing assistance, Cheek said.

"We're fortunate that we've got some funds on hand right now, but of course, that's going to run out," he said.

The majority of donations to FaithWorks are from churches, but the organization also relies on individual donations, which have drastically dropped, Cheek said.

"Times are difficult across the whole spectrum of society. People who ordinarily might give donations might not be able to do that because they're feeling the same crunch," he said.

FaithWorks will soon offer budgeting and job search classes to help those in need help themselves, Cheek said.

"We're trying to help folks sustain themselves instead of relying on assistance from the community," he said.

For more information on the classes, call 770-784-1884.

In other news, FaithWorks handed out a record number of free fans to the community during its annual summer fan drive.

In years' past, the organization has distributed more than 400 fans, but this year, 733 fans were given away to 281 families, representing more than 1,000 individuals. Fans are still being accepted.

To make a monetary donation or a fan donation, stop by the FaithWorks office at 7129 Turner Lake Circle S.W. Hours of operation are from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Monetary donations can be sent to FaithWorks, P.O. Box 2972, Covington, GA, 30015.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.