FaithWorks temporarily closing

COVINGTON -- FaithWorks, the non-profit that assists struggling families with rent and utility payments, is temporarily closing.

The organization needs more funds before it can begin offering financial assistance again, said Executive Director Dennis Cheek.

FaithWorks distributed more than $13,000 in August and is averaging between $9,000 and $11,000 in distributions a month, Cheek said.

The majority of FaithWorks' funding comes through donations of local churches; 38 churches inside Newton County and one outside the county support the charity.

Church donations have fallen by only 3.5 percent, which is remarkable given the harsh economic times, Cheek said. Other donations have dropped about 15 percent. The real issue is that the need has dramatically increased.

"We're seeing people we normally wouldn't see," including those with multiple college degrees who have been out of work long-term and are being told they are "overqualified" for jobs, he said.

FaithWorks has been approved for a $10,500 grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will be a "good shot in the arm," Cheek said, and the organization will reopen as soon as those funds are available or more donations arrive. Until then, a voice mail message and sign on the facility on Turner Lake Circle will notify the community of the closure.

Since the ministry began in January 2006, FaithWorks has assisted 4,980 local households, impacting 14,089 individuals. The organization recently reached the $750,000 mark in financial assistance provided to the community.

Rent and utility assistance are allocated to those who qualify and can be obtained once per year up to three times total per household.

Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so via mail to FaithWorks, P.O. Box 2972, Covington, GA 30015.

Cheek encouraged those who are able to give to any charitable cause.

"In the ministry, we are all chasing after the same dollars. This is a difficult time for all of us Try and help support those ministries that are near and dear to your heart," he said.