Warren County residents of all ages occasionally need a helping hand to get through a tough season. Strong communities support each other by collectively offering practical assistance.
For more than 50 years, Warren County Community Services (WCCS) has provided a wide variety of assistance to local residents through its many senior citizen, health and human services, and preschool programs. From affordable housing for seniors to emergency assistance to families, WCCS offers a wide range of programming that has a measurable impact in our towns.
“We provide a safety net for when someone falls on hard times that they had no idea was ever going to happen to them,” says Aaron Reid, CEO of both WCCS and United Way of Warren County. “It’s a temporary safety net to help them in a time of need and to also help them become self-sufficient.”
The needs in Warren County are substantial now, but in a future economic downturn, WCCS staff saw a need to be able to grow rapidly.
“In five years, I could see us doubling our impact,” says Richard Jones, COO of WCCS. “It’s challenging right now. There are a lot of changes going on, but it is all very positive. The potential of what this organization can do is enormous.”
In May 2019, an idea surfaced to form a strategic alliance between United Way of Warren County and WCCS. Part of this alliance would allow for the two organizations to share the same CEO.
“The strategic direction and what we’re trying to change in the community at United Way of Warren County is very similar to the programs WCCS has already,” Aaron says. “The idea behind this collaboration is to really utilize our resources more efficiently by bringing each organization’s strengths to the table. We have our own boards, we are separate 501(c)(3) organizations, but our two organizations working together is going to free up resources and allow us to put our best skill sets behind solving problems.”
Richard and Aaron have worked together on past community-related initiatives throughout the area, so they already knew there was potential for them to work together and streamline.
“United Way of Warren County does great workforce development, partnership building and fundraising; we are a service provider, on the other side,” Richard says. “There are a lot of things where we can work hand in hand together. We’ve sought alignment of services during these months.”
While the alliance is new, they are already seeing potential impacts that can ripple out into the community and beyond. For instance, both Aaron and Richard have traveled to Columbus, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. advocating for laws and policies that make social services more effective for the organizations that administer these services, as well as for those who are served.
“We are seeing that the status quo isn’t working, so something has to be done,” Aaron says.
Through their efforts, Richard and Aaron say that both organizations rely on the strength of their teams to make an uncommonly large impact.
“Everybody [at WCCS and United Way of Warren County] on their own track is incredible because their hearts are so focused; they are dedicated people. It’s neat to see,” Richard says. “Aaron and I have really learned to appreciate their vision.”
Three of the most impactful programs, among the many offerings of WCCS, include the Early Learning Centers, the Elderly Services Program and Meals on Wheels. If you are interested in getting involved, visit the WCCS' and United Way of Warren County’s volunteer pages on their websites.
Helping Children Grow
Many of the key steps of child development happen during the early years. WCCS’ Early Learning Centers provide high-quality preschool programming, including Head Start-based and other preschool centers, so that children get on the right path for their education.
“There’s a health component too, where they get screenings for dental health and physical health,” Aaron says. “We want to help keep their brains and bodies growing.”
The programs are targeted for those who have low family incomes, providing safe, trustworthy care while parents are at work.
Connecting to Care
Sometimes, when living alone or experiencing health struggles, senior citizens need to know their options. The Elderly Services Program provides this connection to services.
“ESP is critical,” Aaron says. “This program has home visitors who go out to see an eligible senior and do an assessment, see what they might need: someone to come help with cleaning, or bathing, or taking care of them. That person chooses from a variety of different providers. We don’t recommend specific providers, we just do the assessment.”
Feeding the Body and Soul
Not all Meals on Wheels programs are administered the same way. Rather than delivering a pack of frozen meals, Meals on Wheels through WCCS involves daily visits with fresh, hot meals, as well as a check-in. Richard explains that WCCS delivered 250,000 meals in 2018 alone, enabling citizens who might not otherwise have a daily visitor to interact with and ask about the services they may need. A computerized system allows the delivery workers to add a note to a case manager if the individual needs additional assistance as well.
Warren County Community Services
570 N. State Route 741, Lebanon
United Way of Warren County
3989 S. US Route 42, Mason,