Your honest first response to the photo? “This isn’t in Branford, is it?” Shockingly, this “tarp home” is within 2,000 feet of beach/waterfront homes. Driving by we don’t notice. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s the speed we go and the direction we look. In part, that helps to make these neighbors invisible. But most of the new poverty in Branford is even more invisible. It is those who have never needed help before.
It is families and individuals still living in their homes, trying to make ends meet through unemployment and under-employment. The mortgage is in arrears and the car payments too. There isn’t a single discretionary penny and they’ve already drastically changed their lifestyle. If it’s a family situation, children aren’t participating in activities that cost money or getting orthodontic braces and eyeglasses. The priority for the parents is putting food on the table, keeping the lights on and the house warm.
Others in dire distress are people living on fixed incomes. They literally make choices every day between buying food or medicine. There are other groups too. All of these people are the new faces who fill the client lists at the agencies these days. Unless financial hardship has struck your family, neighbor or a friend, you’re probably not aware of what is happening throughout Branford.
Several town-specific and regionally based not-for-profit social service agencies provide funds and services to assist Branford residents with unmet basic needs. Some are listed here with links to their web sites.
In addition to Branford’s own resources, our key service agencies received $180,000 over the last four years, from the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Lifeline program of the United Way of Greater New Haven. Those dollars helped 329 individuals with emergency relief and prevented homelessness for 56 individuals.
Clients are increasingly seeking basic needs help, rather than crises intervention or chronic mental health issues. Visit their web site to learn about their broad spectrum of services. It’s more than you know!
The Community Dining Room serves 4,000 meals a month, provides take-out meals, and serves a family evening dinner. The Food Pantry provides groceries to those in need. The Clothing Bank provides clothing, footwear, linens and personal care items to people in need. Visit their web sites to learn more and share with those who might benefit.
It’s not just a recreational center for seniors! The Energy Fuel Assistance Program—which is for everyone—is managed here. Over 900 applications for fuel assistance were processed this winter. Senior-specific programs include expertise in a broad spectrum of elder care issues. Visit their web site to learn more.
Dedicated to keeping Shoreline area seniors living in the community as independently as possible for as long as possible. Orchard House offers adult day health care including programs of health monitoring and structured activities designed to meet the individual needs of clients and their families.