In my term as Wayne Township Trustee, I have come to appreciate the difference between need and eligibility. There are many people in our community that are very much in need of township assistance, but do not meet the eligibility requirements. The most difficult part of my job is denying assistance to families truly in need of help.
As part of my vision as Trustee, I have sought ways to help as many poor citizens as possible – even the ones who don’t meet the eligibility criteria. I have done this since my term began in 1999 by collaborating with community agencies to find innovative ways of easing the suffering caused by poverty. Even with these efforts, there was still a concern for the plight of the applicants who have been denied township assistance. In November, we added a community resource specialist to our staff. He serves as an advocate for non-eligible applicants and helps them obtain funds from a variety of social service and faith-based organizations. This position attempts to bridge the gap between need and eligibility, and to serve those who might otherwise be left without basic necessities such as food or heat.
While I do not believe that the government can or should solve all of our problems, I do think it has the obligation to lead the way. Through cost-effective strategies and common sense methods, we as government officials can be a principal agent of positive solutions. There are several excellent resources in our community, and through collaborations and improved communications, we are able to direct and utilize these resources in the most efficient manner. By having such a vision and stretching beyond the ‘bare bones’ minimum requirement as Trustee, many more of our citizens are getting the help they need in their time of economic hardship.
Matthew P. Schomburg
Trustee, Wayne Township