TYLER - Help is just a click away with the launch of an online social services directory in two East Texas counties. The 903Help directory is designed to help people in times of need.
The East Texas Human Needs Network launched the directory in both Smith County and Cherokee County on Sept. 1.
Anyone with access to the internet, whether on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone is able to use 903HELP.
The site also includes a tool that enables users to translate to their native language, and users can find help anonymously. Services include education, housing, food and crisis hotlines, in addition to several others.
"People are going to multiple places for help, and not receiving the help they actually need," said Christina Fulsom, founder of the East Texas Human Needs Network.
Users can fill out a help survey, which will instantly give suggestions for what assistance is most needed. The survey will help families identify their strengths and areas that need help, in addition to where they can receive it.
Fulsom said struggling families, or those living in poverty, are often needing assistance in multiple areas.
"It's never a single thing they need assistance with," she said. "What 903 Help gives them is an opportunity to find all of the resources that they need without having to tell their story and swallow their pride, over and over again."
Goodwill is one of more than 60 partnering businesses.
The director of mission services at Goodwill, Chevella Layne, said East Texans are not getting the help they need because they don't know where to turn, or even how to get there.
"If I don't have transportation, and I had to get a ride to go to a certain organization," Layne said. "Then I get there and find out they can't even see me, or I went to the wrong organization."
Fulsom said the addition of this social services directory will help all of East Texas, not just those needing immediate assistance, adding there is oftentimes a stigma surrounding those in need of assistance.
"They are the very people that help us in the grocery story, and who take care of us in the hospitals, and who takes care of our grandparents in nursing homes," Fulsom said. "If their lives improve, then their wellbeing improves, then we all improve."
Organizations who are offering assistant to those in poverty or vulnerable, such as congregations or non-profits, are eligible to become a partner with 903Help. For information, contact the East Texas Human Needs Network at (903)-216-3211.
Fulsom hopes to expand 903Help to Anderson County and Rusk County in January 2018.
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