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Nevada Outreach offers array of programs and services

The Nevada Outreach Training Organization is well-known for its incredibly recognizable No to Abuse program but there is so much more to the organization than just this one valuable program. As such, executive director Kathie McKenna is on a mission to make certain everyone knows Nevada Outreach has a whole host of other programs and services to aid community members throughout Nye County.

“I don’t think people really know everything that we do at Nevada Outreach,” McKenna said in an interview on Saturday, April 25. “I think it’s because there has been so much emphasis on No to Abuse, which is an amazing program of course, but that is far from all that we have to offer here.”

McKenna explained that Nevada Outreach has two offices, one in Pahrump and another in Tonopah, and covers the entire county, from the populous valley in the southern end, to Amargosa, Beatty, Tonopah, Round Mountain, Gabbs and all areas in between. One of its programs, the Child Advocacy Center, also extends into neighboring Esmeralda County.

“So we have a large footprint that we cover and we need to make sure people are aware that we serve the whole county,” McKenna stressed. “My big thing is prevention. If we can get people the help they need right away, then they don’t end up in that downward spiral situation. As soon as people start to experience these problems, they lose a job or get sick and can’t pay their rent, they should contact us so we can make a plan of action to stop that downward spiral and get them back on their feet. If you’re in trouble, come see us and do it at the beginning of your trouble. Don’t wait until you’re at the bottom of that drain, circling fast.”

Family Resource Center

One of Nevada Outreach’s program is the Family Resource Center, which provides goods and services to those in need.

“The Family Resource Center is probably our most underutilized program,” McKenna explained. “That’s the part that helps with rental assistance, energy assistance and gas to get back and forth to work. We help people sign up for Medicaid, help them sign up for SNAP, get them connected to Section 8 housing through HUD. We have a stockpile of items, ranging from clothing to furniture to other household items, that people can also access whenever they are in need.

“Last year we helped over 1,600 individuals through the Family Resource Center and I think that is just a drop in the bucket because if you look at, statistically, the area we serve, we have a 17.3 percent of individuals below the federal poverty line, so there are way more people that I think we can help. Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of people know about what we can do for them,” McKenna stated.

Nye County Children’s Advocacy Center

“This is where we do forensic interviews for children who have been physically abused or sexually molested,” McKenna explained of the Children’s Advocacy Center. “When DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services) gets called and they find that there has been some form of abuse, the sheriff’s department will then request that we conduct that interview. We have a child and family advocate, because the goal is to help the family overall. We walk them through the process, let them know what’s coming next, because when you take the time to do that, it takes a lot of that fear away.”

The child and family advocate plays a vital role in supporting those dealing with the aftermath of an abusive situation, throughout the entire process, from the immediate response to any court hearings and beyond.

In addition, the Children’s Advocacy Center can help with costs associated with post-incident medical and mental care or costs such as gas to get to those appointments, or child care because the person involved has had their life disrupted.

McKenna remarked, “It’s truly a litany of things that we can help with through the Victims of Crime Act Funds.”

She said last year Nevada Outreach conducted over 100 forensic interviews and is on track to surpass that number in 2020. With children out of school, reports by mandated reporters of possible abuse or neglect have dropped dramatically. “That is concerning because we’re afraid of what is going to happen when they all start coming back to school, and we know logically that those numbers didn’t drop because abuse or neglect has stopped. It’s because those children are now unseen.”

Differential Response

Nevada Outreach also works closely with DCFS on another of its programs, Differential Response.

If a report of possible child abuse or neglect is made and the sheriff’s office determines that there is truth in that report, DCFS steps in and will take the child away. However, there are many situations that warrant concern but do not merit removal of the child and that is where Nevada Outreach can help make a difference.

“Maybe it’s environmental neglect, they have a lot of trash around or the pets are pottying on the floor, or maybe its educational neglect, they aren’t sending the kids to school, things like that. In those situations, Nevada Outreach steps in to work with those families directly, so they don’t get put into the DCFS system, which is to their benefit because nobody wants that.”

McKenna noted that once a child is taken away, it can be a very lengthy process to prove that the parent has made the changes necessary to take care of their children. “So we’ll go in and help them clean up, help get them mental health services if they need it, whatever we can do to help them overcome whatever problems they are having so they can have a better life and keep DCFS out of it.”

Nevada Health Link

Nevada Outreach also offers assistance with something many find an intimidating process, purchasing health insurance, with Nevada Health Link.

“Health Link is to help people navigate the website for health care,” McKenna detailed. “We don’t actually sign people up for those health insurance plans but we sit down with them and help them navigate the system and show them the different options so they can make an informed decision. And a lot of times we have people who come in for that who actually qualify for Medicaid. We can help sign them up for Medicaid so they don’t have to pay for that medical coverage.”

Title IV-B

Nevada Outreach also conducts classes under Title IV-B, which McKenna refers to as the organization’s “training arm.”

“We do parenting classes, anger management classes, we teach people about all kinds of basic life skills like creating a budget, how to shop and buy the right foods to cook healthy, how to clean their homes,” McKenna said. “Often these are court-mandated classes but they are also open to anyone in the community desiring to learn these vital life skills.”

Veterans services

Nevada Outreach also places a large amount of focus on former military service members, thanks to some generous funding from Nye County.

“Whether it’s domestic violence, the Family Resource Center, financial assistance, whatever the need, we have funds that are given to us by Nye County that are earmarked specifically for veterans,” McKenna stated. “We use it 100 percent for veterans, whether they are trying to get into a new place or need some other form of help, we are there for them. We actually recently helped a couple of homeless veterans get into housing, which we were very happy about.”

No to Abuse

Then of course, there is No to Abuse. Nevada Outreach has staffers on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to domestic violence situations and the organization has been advocating for those who have experienced domestic violence, stalking, sexual abuse and even elder abuse for more than 20 years in Nye County.

“Right now, during COVID-19, we are starting to see an uptick in domestic violence,” McKenna reported. “People have lost their jobs, they’re forced to stay home, they’re on edge, you know where that can lead.”

No to Abuse provides an array of support and services to people who experience situations such as domestic violence, from emergency and long-term shelter to relocation services, transportation for sexual assault exams, household needs and a support mechanism if they decide to press charges and take their abuser to court.

Nevada Outreach offers a survivors’ meeting for those who have experienced domestic violence, as well, giving people a safe place to be with others who have been in their shoes and with whom they can find understanding and comfort.

Funding and donations

As with any nonprofit, funding is key in keeping the organization strong. A majority of Nevada Outreach’s funding is derived from grants, which generally come with specific requirements for utilizing the funding. Gaps between the organization’s needs and grant funding are filled with donations and other contributions, such as volunteer hours.

It’s been a rough seven months for Nevada Outreach, which was unable to hold two of its major fundraisers, the Celebrity Auction due to a scheduling error and its annual golf tournament due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“So our fundraising dollars are really down,” McKenna said.

Fortunately, Kinross Gold, the owners of Round Mountain Gold, recently stepped up to provide a donation for which McKenna was extremely grateful. A total of $35,000 was donated to Nevada Outreach and the NyE Communities Coalition, with which Nevada Outreach works closely.

“We’re using that funding for anything COVID-19 related. NyECC is really focused on mental health, medical expenses, food, they are handling that end, while we at Nevada Outreach are handling rental assistance, utility assistance, child care. Anything related to COVID-19, those funds will be able to help our communities throughout the county. That is a huge benefit! I’m really excited about the funds that Kinross has afforded us to be able to help people in our community during this pandemic,” McKenna said.

Even with that generous donation, however, the need for contributions is continuous. Nevada Outreach is always accepting additional donations, be they money, items or time.

“People are always welcome to come by the office and donate, if they like. A lot of people don’t have funds to offer but we are also short of volunteers, particularly skilled volunteers. For example, we really need to address some repairs here, we have a couple of leaks and an air conditioner that is out right now. That’s where we use a lot of our donation money,” McKenna said. “We could also use volunteers who have a trailer to pick up appliance and furniture donations and deliver them to clients. Anything people can give, we are always very grateful.”

For more information visit NevadaOutreach.org or call 775-751-1118 in Pahrump or 775-482-3016 in Tonopah.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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