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MOUNT WASHINGTON - After working most of his life and earning a decent wage, Jeffrey Nutgrass of Mount Washington found himself out of work in July.
At the age of 40, Nutgrass, a single father who had worked as a commercial trucker for 15 years bringing home $1,000 or more a week, watched helplessly as his income disappeared.
“Going from $1,000 a week to nothing is pitiful,” he said. “It’s very discouraging.”
It’s been more than four month since Nutgrass applied for government assistance to get him get by until he finds another job. He’s still waiting.
He relies on his family for support, but even they can do only so much.
Having grown up in Mount Washington, Nutrass had heard of Mount Washington Community Ministries, a faith-based organization made up of local churches committed to providing emergency assistance to those in need in the Mount Washington area.
He sought help from MWCM and the organization provided Nutgrass with food, even diapers and childcare for his two year-old son.
Nutrass’s story is all too familiar with many Bullitt Countians.
U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that in 2009 10.7 percent of Bullitt Countians were living below the poverty level, which means more than one in 10 earned less than the government’s poverty threshold.
For the average single individual, the threshold is an annual income of $11,344. For a family of three the threshold is $17,374, according to census.gov.
Gloria Stump, who has volunteered for MWCM with her husband Jim for about two and a half years, said she’s noticed more and more people have been seeking assistance in recent years.
Stump said MWCM has had difficulty keeping up with the recent spike in demand for services as more and more have sought assistance in recent years.
Between January and June alone MWCM helped more than 2,000 individuals who sought assistance. For comparison, 4,000 individuals were helped in 2010.
With winter on its way and energy prices expected to be on the rise, Stump said it will become more difficult for MWMC to provide food and utility assistance without additional help.
MWCM depends entirely on donations to provide food to those in need.
Lately, volunteers have had to drive to Louisville to get food from Dare to Care to stock MWCM’s shelves, but their shelves are still bare.
MWCM has even had to purchase food with funds designated to help low-income families with other needs.
The Boy Scouts of America’s annual Scouting for Food initiative is a major contributor to MWCM’s food pantry.
The program used to supply enough food for MWCM to distribute for an entire year, but with increased demand and fewer donations, that hasn’t been the case in recent years.
MWCM co-director Ralph Clark said items from the November 2010 Scouting for Food program ran out a few months ago.
As Stump explained, Scouting for Food is invaluable to MWCM’s efforts.
Scout master Josh Dillar of Mount Washington’s Boy Scout Troop 100 said his group is well aware of how important the Scouting for Food drive is to MWCM.
In 2010 Mount Washington’s three scout troops collected more than 18,000 food items for MWCM.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Dillard said. “The sad part is it’s not enough.”
Hoping to collect more food this year, Mount Washington scouts are stepping up their efforts.
“We could possibly be looking at a slower giving season because of the economy, but we’re going to try to knock on every door in Mount Washington,” Dillard said. “We’re going to door our part.”
On Saturday Nov. 19, Mount Washington Scouts will be going door-to-door collecting non-perishable food items for the nationwide initiative.
You can meet the scouts at the door or leave your donations for them to pick up.
Once collected, donations will be dropped off at the Mount Washington City Hall Annex Building off Branham Way where they will be sorted, boxed and sent to MWCM.
Anyone who would like to sort donations is welcome.
MWCM invites individuals, churches, schools, businesses and community organizations to partner with them to meet the needs of the less fortunate in the community.
While everyone’s encouraged to participate in the Scouting for Food Drive, non-perishable food items can also be dropped off Thursdays 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at MWCM, located in the basement of Coakley Chapel on the campus of First Baptist Church of Mount Washington, 320 N. Bardstown Rd.
Additionally, donations will be accepted at any of MWCM’s sponsoring churches: Kings Baptist Church, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Bethel United Methodist Church, Mount Washington United Methodist Church, Calvary Christian Center, First Christian Church, Riverview Baptist Church, Grace Pointe Community Church, and Life in the Spirit Fellowship.
For more information, call MWMC at (502) 538-8439 or visit mwcm.org.