140 W. Center St. on the square in Canton
January 28, 2010
Johnson spreads word on agency
By Lucy Weber
The Madison County Citizens Services Agency could be one of the best kept secrets around, but executive director Mary Sims Johnson wants to change that.
"We're here to serve, and we want the citizens to know it," Johnson said. "There are a number of residents who could benefit from our services but they don't know we're here. Everybody in Madison County has an opportunity to receive our services."
The three-year-old agency, the social service arm of the Board of Supervisors and which has the goal of eradicating poverty in Madison County, assists local residents living below the poverty line with programs for energy assistance, transportation, meals, information and referral, outreach and an ombudsman to assist the elderly in long-term care. The agency, located at 140 W. Center St. on the square in Canton, receives federal and state grants, in addition to local matching funds.
"This is a Madison County agency. We want to meet the needs of those across the county," said Timmy Pickett, chairman of the agency's board of directors.
Johnson, who has been on the job since last March, said the number of clients continues to grow but she wants to make sure that everyone who could benefit from the agency's services will benefit.
"It's very rewarding work. You know you're making a difference in the community," she said.
in December, the agency helped 434 clients with its Low Income Energy Assistance Program, an increase of 59 percent compared to last year. For those whose income is 150 percent below the national poverty level, the program makes sure their utilities are not shut off.
"Our goal is to provide wraparound services, a system of care. We're the first point of referral. If we don't provide the service, we will link them to the agency that can help," Johnson said. "The need is great, and that's why we're here."
The Citizens Services Agency is planning an outreach program through local churches in February. Johnson said the agency will mail out about 200 to 400 letters to churches in the county to spread the word about the services offered and the help available to the disadvantaged, elderly and handicapped.
"We just want people to be served," she said.
Pickett said the agency staff does a good job in linking those in need with the services that can help them. Madison County residents need to aware of the agency and the services that are available to help, he said.
"Helping people less fortunate, that's what the agency is about," Pickett said.
Johnson, who came to the agency with 26 years experience with Catholic Charities, said the staff members do "a superb job in really serving the clients."
The agency runs congregate meals programs, funded by the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, in Canton and Camden on weekdays. Besides a hot meal, the program for the elderly also provides social enrichment. There are 24 slots for the meals program in Camden and 26 in Canton with a waiting list for both, Johnson said.
The agency runs two public transportation services, which average about 15-20 riders per day. Anyone can utilize one of the services that runs from Canton to Jackson every week day, and the other is only for the elderly to take them to the doctor, store or other places they need to go.
"These support our mission to eradicate poverty" since the public bus system is used by many riders to get to jobs in Jackson, Johnson said. "We want to continue to build out our transportation."
Through its outreach program, the agency goes to the homes of residents who are physically challenged to evaluate their needs and then through the information and referral program the agency links them to what organizations can meet those needs, Johnson said.
The ombudsman program provides advocacy for those Madison County residents in long-term care who can't advocate for themselves, Johnson said.
"It's hard for our clients to say 'I need help.' We let them know they're important to us and we empower them in any way we can," she said.
12/18/2008 5:04:00 AM
Agency directors resign after change
By STEVEN G. WATSON
Four members of the Madison County Citizens Service Agency's board of directors have resigned amid questions about a recent change in the board's makeup.
The agency provides goods and services to underprivileged residents in Madison County.
Click here for entire article.
Click here for Clarion Ledger article and to leave comments:
Madison Co. supervisor, agency head clash at meeting
Background paper with detailed information.