As Shuff spoke with each person, he ended each meeting with a
request to pray with and for the client.
Shuff has been running
the local chapter of Salvation Army since December. He was first
appointed as an interim director and was officially given the
position of director a few weeks later.
Shuff said he is settling into his position and felt like it was
time to talk about what was going on at Keest Center and what
Salvation Army is doing in the community.
Shuff said that right now the work Salvation Army is doing
involves helping clients get assistance with water bills, Ameren
payments and some rental assistance.
Illinois American Water and Ameren both have their own assistance
programs that will give account credits to people who are behind on
their bills. Shuff serves as the intake person for those programs.
He said Ameren's program is not the same as the LIHEAP program
that can be applied for at Community Action. Instead, the money used
comes from the Warm Neighbors Cool Friends program administered by
Shuff said there is a box to check on the monthly Ameren bill if
customers would like to give $1 to the program. When they say yes,
$1 from their payment each month is placed into the Warm Neighbors
Cool Friends fund.
When clients come to Salvation Army for this assistance, they do
have income guidelines they have to meet. Clients have to fill out
information about the people in the household and their sources of
Shuff said the assistance is available to those who do not
qualify for LIHEAP because they are what are often called the
"between the cracks" clients. They make too much to be considered in
poverty according to federal guidelines, but not enough to support
themselves and their household. Shuff said the income guideline is
that their wages must equal 150 to 200 percent of poverty level.
Also, the client has to have made a good-faith payment to the
utility. Shuff said they can bring records of a recent payment, or
if they haven't done that, they will need to make a payment and
bring in proof that they did so.
Finally, the payments can be applied for twice per year: once for
the winter heating months and once for the summer cooling months.
Shuff said the program for Illinois American Water is similar,
and again, the money is not state or federal grant money; it comes
through the water company. The water company program does have
different rules and restrictions. Shuff said the best piece of
advice he can give to anyone in trouble is to come and see him
before their water is shut off.
In addition to intake for financial aid, there is also a food
pantry and a clothing pantry at the Keest Center.
Shuff said the food pantry is not well-stocked right now, and
what is on hand would probably be best used in serving clients of
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This is an area where Shuff would like to expand.
"We have four freezers in the basement and a lot of room," he
However, Lincoln and Logan County are blessed with a number of
food pantries, from Community Action to the Lincoln/Logan County
Food Pantry and some at local churches as well.
Shuff said what he would like to see come about someday is a
system where Salvation Army could assist in storing food for use by
the other pantries. He said right now there are food banks to the
north and east of Lincoln. Their stockpiles are available to local
pantries. Shuff said it is a thought that isn't fully developed yet,
but what he would like to see is a way in which the Salvation Army
could work between the food banks and local pantries to make food
more readily available to those in need in Logan County.
The clothing pantry, on the other hand, is very well-stocked
right now. Shuff said the area designated as the downstairs dining
room and one sleeping room upstairs are packed with clothing for
children and adults. In addition, toys of a wide variety are
available that clients can take for their children at any time.
Shuff said the assistance offered by Salvation Army is not
intended to be a handout, but rather a "hand up." He explained the
goal is to help people get to the point where they are taking care
He added that the Salvation Army goal also extends to taking care
of the client's spiritual needs.
"I have served as a pastor for many years," he said. "For me it
is second nature to want to talk to people about God and to pray
with them about their situations."
It is Shuff's belief that if a family can move forward in their
personal lives and move forward in their relationship with God, then
the results will be remarkable.
The Keest Center is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1
p.m. Shuff said because he is the only one there most of the time,
these hours can change. He keeps a schedule posted on the front door
of the building for when he has to be out of the office to attend
This concludes Part 2 of a series. In the next segment, Shuff
will answer an often-asked question: Is the Keest Center a homeless
[By NILA SMITH]
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