The Agape House Board of Directors has named one of its members as interim director of the food pantry and resale store, but the agency is not writing checks for financial assistance, according to Craig Schmidt, interim president.
Financial aid for people who need help with their electric bill or other financial emergency is on hold, he said.
“Board member Joanne Wilken, an employee of Scott Trade, will serve as interim executive director.
“She will remain as a nonvoting member of the board of directors as long as she holds that position,” Schmidt said. “When we find a full-time executive director she will return as a voting member of the board.”
Since the firing of Jean Guffey Feb. 1, the community service agency has been without a social service professional who can vet applications for financial assistance. As a result, the Agape House has written no assistance checks since that time.
“We have a plan and are certainly looking for someone to fill that role,” Schmidt said. “There’s a process when someone asks for assistance. We need a skilled service worker to collect information about the client, verify the amount they are asking for and their situation. We have to make sure they are not getting assistance from other entities and there is a legitimate need.”
Schmidt said the food pantry and resale store are both in full operation and things are going well, but the agency cannot write checks until the vetting process is worked out.
He also said Jean Guffey and her daughter Carrie Guffey, who also was let go, had worked with the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Pacific and Catawissa.
Schmidt said if one of those organizations approved a request for assistance and asked the Agape House to contribute a portion of the funds, the agency could write a check.
“We can write a check,” Schmidt said. “We just can’t vet clients. We are referring people to other agencies.”
The role of the interim director is to coordinate the efforts of volunteers in the food pantry and store.
“She has make sure clients are served and monitor how receipts are managed in the store,” Schmidt said.
Wilken is in the process of retiring from her full-time job, Schmidt said.
He also said the board of directors is working to iron out any difficulties from past operations and create an operation that is supportive to both the clients who need assistance and the volunteers who provide it.
“We want it to work for everyone,” Schmidt said.