"Our caseload went up a couple years ago from eighty-five to 125 [per year] and has stayed uniform since then, says Don Dersnah, director of Saline Area Social Service. "I'm guessing the caseload will stay the way it is now, and some of these folks we'll be seeing for the rest of their lives."
Of all the out-county human-services groups, SASS is the oldest. "It was founded fifty years ago by a woman who ran it out of her own basement and handed things out to people in need," says Dersnah. They've grown since then but have kept that personal quality.
"We see ourselves as a 'neighbors helping neighbors' organization," Dersnah says. "We have a food pantry, and our clients use it every week. We have some limits--meat products, for example. Everything else, folks go through and do their shopping for a week. Folks are on their own to determine what they would like most. We're not like some food pantries who will put together a bag of groceries."
That's not all they do. "We are able, if a person has medical coverage, to help with co-pays on prescriptions. We are able to assist with rent up to $200 once in a twelve-month period, and we can help with DTE [utility bills] one time in a twelve-month period. We do a holiday [adopt-a-family] program, and this year we had about 150 households that we served."