Thursday morning at 9, the first request to help a family in need went out over the newly launched online CarePortal.
Grandma, who is caring for five very young children and for a daughter seriously injured in a domestic abuse situation, needed new brakes and tires so the family has a reliable car this winter.
Within a few hours, help was on the way. A local church had offered to get the car fixed.
That’s the way the new CarePortal works. It’s an online platform where state caseworkers whose clients need a little extra help, cash, goods or services, can connect with local churches.
The needs are posted on the portal, then cooperating churches see if their members can meet those needs.
Those needs can range from money for rent, beds and blankets for children, bikes, cars, clothes, furniture, things the state cannot provide.
Caseworkers in Kearney, Hastings and North Platte and 24 churches have been partnering through CarePortal for a year and a half.
The project has served 260 children with about $100,000 worth of donations, according to statistics from the state Department of Health and Human Services.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County CarePortal program, with 14 churches, was launched Thursday during a news conference with first lady Susanne Shore.
"When we see a kid in need, we need to see that as our child. We need to be part of the solution,” Shore said during an event at the Capitol.
These gifts can help keep small problems from ballooning into bigger problems, she said of the items and financial support from local churches.
The state is partnering with Christian Heritage, a Lincoln-based children, adolescent and family welfare and fostering organization, to connect with a network of local churches.
Another local need was posted Thursday asking for help to pay past-due electric bills and this month’s rent.
The request was for a single mom of three who has served time in jail, but has defied the odds, making sure the basic needs of her family are met and that her children are involved in a local youth and sports program, said Elizabeth Buhr, child, family services specialist with DHHS.
Meeting these needs will help this family maintain stability and remain in a safe, stable home, she said.
Pastor Mozart Dixon, with City Light Church, retold the story of giving someone a fish or teaching them to fish.
"Here's the problem. The dude doesn't have a fishing pole," Dixon said.
"This is an opportunity for us to give folks a fishing pole," said Dixon, who said he grew up in a Lincoln family that moved from place to place and didn't have some of the advantages of a middle-class home.
CarePortal is part of a Kansas City-based national program that has helped more than 31,000 children in 20 states, with an estimated $11.5 million in benefits, through partnerships with 1,700 churches, according to Byron Riddle, with Christian Heritage, who helped organize the Lincoln project.
Each request is an opportunity for churches to meet meaningful needs and sometimes build lasting relationships, he said.
The platform is an efficient system for helping. It shows the churches really care about the community and it supports children, families and caseworkers, he said.
Local churches interested in participating in CarePortal can contact Riddle at Christian Heritage, 402-202-8124.