Friday, September 30, 2005

Family Connection Project supplements food budgets

Volunteers provide essential needs on monthly basis


By MEGAN THOMAS
Express Staff Writer

Julianne Fischman launches a project to provide a box of daily essentials for families in need on a monthly basis. Photo by Willy Cook

An afternoon TV program inspired Julianne Fischman to expand support for Blaine County families in need.

This month Fischman launches the Family Connection Project, a non-profit organization established to provide basic life essentials. The program aims to supply goods—personal hygenin products, cleaning supplies, school supplies and paper products—not covered by food stamps.

"My goal is to free up meager funds. Give these people a chance to get a leg up," she said.

Fischman models her organization after a similar program she saw on the Oprah show. After watching the television episode, the Hailey resident agreed to sponsor a family in Georgia through the featured national organization.

Shopping for toilet paper, toothpaste and the like, Fischman spent $35 on daily life essentials. When it came time to mail the products to Georgia, the $65 shipping cost forced her to reconsider her monthly commitment.

She realized that if she started a similar program on a local level, she would eliminate shipping costs and directly help those in her community.

"What I found out through the process is we have a tremendous amount of people in need. I felt the urgency I had to do something. This program will fill a very strong need. I had to dive in," she said.

The program rests on an on-going commitment by families, businesses and schools to sponsor a family in need.

Sponsors make a minimum one-year commitment to buy, shop and deliver a box of basic life essentials on a monthly basis. The volunteer sponsors shop for the contents of their boxes, allowing individuals to personalize their donations.

"It is giving on an on-going basis, so a connection is made," she said.

On average the commitment equates to $50 per month, although sponsors choose the amount they are comfortable pledging. The organization also provides a personal shopping service for those inclined to make a monetary commitment.

"The most important part for me is that there is a connection," Fischman said.

A screening process matches volunteer sponsors with families that need assistance to establish a personal connection. Information remains confidential, but basic information allows volunteers to understand special needs, preferences and age appropriate items.

"I think it feels good to give, because that's what we are supposed to be doing," Fischman said.

For more information, contact 788-2523 or familyconnectionproject.org.




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