Social services have always been a fundamental and essential portion of the work done at St. Francis House’s Elm Street location. These services are an immediate material response to emergency situations created by loss of employment and no income, low or fixed income, chronic or sudden illness, lack of health insurance and the high cost of medicine and utilities.
Clients qualify for assistance through need, especially those not eligible for assistance from other agencies. Individuals and families can receive food and USDA commodities once a month and also avail themselves of clothing donated by the community. Sometimes, household items and furniture are available for fire victims. The staff networks closely with other social agencies, the various utillity companies and the Housing Authority to settle over-due payments or arrange housing. For prescription drugs, the staff coordinates a voucher system with local pharmacies.
Funding for Social Services comes from a variety of sources, including individual contributors and churches, and the United Way of Pulaski County. Food commodities provided to our clients are either purchased in bulk at significantly discounted prices or provided in cooperation with such agencies as the Arkansas Foodbank Network.
Veterans Re-Entry Program
Begun in 1988, the Veterans Re-Entry Program provides transitional housing for homeless veterans having difficulties re-entering society because of post-traumatic stress syndrome or substance abuse or other problems. Funded under a contract with the Veterans Administration, and located at St. Francis Houses’s Elm Street location, the program provides a therapeutic setting for homeless veterans, including the services of counseling, transitional housing, meals, laundry and activities.
Upon arrival, clients’ personal needs are assessed, and, if needed, they are provided personal items of soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. The average stay is 3 months, but can be as long as 2 years. Veterans participate in various training groups 4 days a week, including life skills.
Able veterans are required to seek full time employment. Assistance with employment is provided by a Veterans Administrations employee. Those unable to work are assisted with securing other types of income, such as VA pension or disability. All residents are required to save 75% of their income to secure permanent housing. Once their savings are sufficient, they are assisted in finding housing. Outside activities are provided for the veterans, including bowling, movies or going out to eat, and “game nights” are organized periodically.
Homeless Female Veterans and Veterans with Families recieve employment services. This program is funded by the Department of Labor. Veterans are assisted to find viable employment and secure housing.
The St. Francis House Community Clinic is designed to meet the needs of those individuals in our community who are unable to readily access the traditional healhcare system. We exist to care for those who are uninsured/underinsured and those at risk of losing any insurance which they may have. We provide these services in a manner in which the dignity and respect of the person is maintained without regard to their economic status.
In September 1999, St. Vincent Health System, in collaboration with St. Francis House, opened this clinic in our facility at 2701 South Elm Street. It is staffed by retired volunteer physicians, nurses, other health care professionals and lay persons. This clinic operates in a similar manner to a physician’s office. At the conclusion of the patients visit, the patient receives a month’s supply of medications and an appointment for any referral services made for tests or other procedures as needed before the next clinic visit. We have, on site, equipment adequate to provide immediate lab results on some blood work, while more complex laboratory tests are performed at the hospital.
The operation of the clinic is funded through grants and donations. These funds enable the purchase of medications and supplies for the patients.