This year marks my 7th year as the leader of the Wayne Township Trustee Office. I have held significant roles in my career, but the role as Trustee exceeds them all. Regularly I make rounds to my staff to greet them and to let them know how much I appreciate their dedication to our mission of helping people in our community. Our records show that for the months of January and February my staff served more than 2,000 clients with shelter, utility, food, medication, transportation and burial assistance.
Our purpose is to provide temporary assistance to persons who, for whatever reason, are unable to provide for themselves. This might include someone who has lost his or her job and has been unable to find another one. It might include someone who is ill and unable to work or someone who is working only part-time and not earning enough to support his or her family.
In addition to the services listed above, we also offer another very important program and service, our Representative Payee Program. We work closely with the Social Security Administration office to serve clients that need additional assistance in managing their expenses within their financial means. This program works with clients who are unable to manage their money without help. Most payee clients are referred to us through the Social Security Administration.
Our Representative Payee Program is one of the least known, yet one of the most important programs our office offers. Payee Program Director SuzAnne Runge and her staff continue to work daily to refine this already successful program that assists persons who, due to challenges, need help managing their own money. This program provides a service to our clients in need at no extra charge to them. It is more than a “bill paying program,” it’s a place where people actually care about them.
Wayne Township’s Representative Payee Program is voluntary on the part of those who want to take advantage of the program. Currently there are about 100 clients being served through the program, but since the beginning several hundred individuals have elected to benefit from this service.
Our first priority is to make sure bills for the client’s basic necessities are paid. Basic necessities include housing, utilities, food, medical expenses and personal care items. Participants’ income is deposited directly into a Wayne Township bank account. Then our staff, using the participant’s own money, pays the client’s bills. Once those bills are paid, we try to put some of the client’s money into savings for emergencies and still be able to give the clients some spending money. This is a difficult task at times since their income often barely covers basic necessities.
Our Payee staff tries to get to know each Payee client personally and to advocate for them, if necessary, both in the financial arena and in their quality of life. Numerous times over the years our staff has resolved problems for Payee clients that they were unable work out themselves. The staff also looks for free or low-cost programs to recommend to the Payee participants to enhance their quality of life. We do all of this as part of our mission as a community leader in countering the effects of poverty. Without our intervention, some of these individuals would have a need for township assistance to cover their basic necessities.
March has been identified as Disability Awareness Month. Get involved and develop relationships with your neighbors—with and without disabilities—and make your community a place where everyone is a valued member.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee