The Jasper Area Family Services Center is acting as a hub of information about resources available to help locals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Walker Area Community Foundation recently published a comprehensive list of agencies offering help with a range of needs. The center's number, 205-302-0801, was listed as a resource for those who have been laid off or furloughed because of the coronavirus.
Though the center is closed to the public, phone calls are being redirected to staff members at home, according to executive director Donna Kilgore.
Calls are being answered Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
"I think it's important that people get a person when they call. We need to listen to people, hear what they're saying and then use the resources that already existed plus any new ones to connect people to the one that is best for them based on what they say their current need is," Kilgore said.
If it is not immediately clear which resource would be most helpful, staff members will take down key information and return the call after doing the necessary research.
Though most area nonprofit leaders have close working relationships and are used to making referrals, agencies have submitted a short summary of the services they offer to WACF clarifying which services they are best equipped to handle at this time.
While individuals are free to contact any agency directly, the Center is there for anyone who is navigating the social services system for the first time or is unsure where to begin to get the assistance they need.
The number of calls to the Center has been rising since last week, and Kilgore expects that trend to continue.
"We've had people call who have said, 'I don't have a need at this very moment, but I know I will.' They're trying to figure out how to navigate that," she said.
The state now has a website, altogetheralabama.org, that "is designed to be a comprehensive guide to aid in navigating all issues related to the COVID-19 response," according to a press release from the office of Gov. Kay Ivey. "Individuals and business owners can seek help and identify state and federal resources that can provide a lifeline in the form of low-interest loans and financial assistance."