Naperville CARES and Loaves and Fishes will soon be merging their organizations based off a common goal to fight hunger and support self-sufficiency in Naperville.
“What it really is about is providing a better customer service experience for the neighbors we serve. It’s going to be able to walk alongside our clients for a longer period of time, so we can have a longer-term impact and help them build their resources through various ways,” said Janet Derrick, Executive Director of Naperville CARES.
The new combined program will be called the Loaves and Fishes CARES program. By joining forces application time will be cut down and staff will be better able to link resources to a client who may be struggling on different fronts.
“From Loaves and Fishes you can get some emotional support, you can get some job assistance, you can get money management assistance, legal support. With CARES coming over they will now get financial assistance, car repair, so that will be great because those are major needs in the community,” said Duncan Ward, Director of Empowerment Services at Loaves and Fishes.
Janet Derrick will become the Vice President of the Loaves and Fishes CARES program with her team transitioning to Loaves and Fishes offices.
Mike Havala, current Board Chair of Loaves and Fishes will serve as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is named. Staff will also be trained how to better connect the needs of clients with the new resources through the merge.
“Now if someone calls for utility assistance during the winter months, instead of going through the application process at CARES, we will have them first apply at the building for LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), the government program that’s available for utilities, and we’ll be able to do one appointment to connect them to all the services, make sure they’re using the food pantry and get them signed up for that,” said Derrick.
And in return staff expects to see a difference in the number of families needing assistance in our community.
“I believe it will take the need down. I’ve been here now two years and being here over two years it’s just increased each month, and now both organizations coming together will take it down because the challenge and the struggle will be eliminated by having one roof provide all the services,” said Ward.
While the merge officially goes into effect July 1, normal programming will take place while the transition happens over the next six months.
Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek reports.
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