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UDMO helps Emmet County

Serving those who need help getting back on their feet

February 3, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

"Any little act of voluntarism helps," Deb Weir said. Weir is director of Emmet County's location of Upper Des Moines Opportunity. The Estherville location, which shares a building with Emmet County Public Health on South First Street, has seven regular volunteers at any given time, and could use more, Weir said.

"Emmet County has a big need. There are a lot of families in need here," Weir said. Emmet County UDMO serves the entire county from its Estherville location, Weir said.

All services offered at UDMO are based on federal poverty income guidelines. Weir said she receives calls from individuals asking, "What does UDMO do? I've never heard of you."

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Weir said UDMO's programs strive to support families, help individuals get back on their feet, and encourage all to achieve self-sufficiency.

"Emmet County is one of the poorest counties in Iowa, and the job opportunities here need to be built up."

Among the programs offered: a food pantry, in which individuals and families can pick up boxes and bags of groceries every two weeks, and individual items out on the office shelves whenever available. The packages include balanced meals including meat items.

Other programs include: back to school, a Christmas gift program, Birthday Room for children age 9 and under, Senior Program, LIHEAP (low-income energy assistance) and Weatherization.

UDMO administers the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program, Head Start, FaDSS (family self-sufficiency), and KIDDS programs. A family support coordinator is available for the SAILS program to assist with job applications, social security, resumes, food assistance, Medicaid, and budgeting and food planning.

Weir said the Catholic Daughters have donated tickets for the RIDES bus for those who need transportation to a job interview from the UDMO office.

The Emergency Services grant (ESG) assists Emmet County residents in quickly regaining stability in permanent housing after experiencing a housing crisis and/or homelessness.

Weir said, "We refer individuals to outside resources when applicable. Some of these are the Veterans Administration, Department of Human Services, Housing & Urban Development, Legal Aid, Public Health, Centers Against Abuse & Sexual Assault (CAASA), Elderbridge, and others."

Weir said Emmet County Outreach is grateful for the support from citizens of Emmet County. The best way to support the programs of UDMO is through monetary donations, Weir said.

"For the food pantry, we can purchase pallets of food for pennies on the dollar, and provide for more people than through individuals bringing food donations they've purchased from the store," Weir said.

Monetary donations also allow Weir to put the money where it's most needed, whether it's helping a family with a bill they cannot pay, helping with a medical expense, or purchasing food.

Weir said individuals can make a big difference. "Any little thing is a big thing. We all pull together to make it work," Weir said.



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