County expands social services south to TRE

For some residents, a 45-mile round-trip from Topaz Ranch Estates to Gardnerville, might be impossible with the demise of the Douglas Area Rural Transit route.

To meet the needs of south county residents, Douglas County Social Services is inaugurating Topaz Ranch Estates outreach days beginning April 14.

On the second Tuesday of each month, Karen Beckerbauer, a TRE resident and social services eligibility specialist, will be available at the TRE Community Center on Carter Way, from 12:30-4:30 p.m.

"We're just finding more and more that we have people in need in TRE and it's just a real burden to try to get into the (Gardnerville) office," said Karen Goode, county social services director. "They need assistance for everything from accessing Social Security to screening for utility or rent assistance."

Goode said no appointment is necessary unless the resident requires special assistance, such as a translator.

She emphasized the service is not just for low-income families.

"Anybody who needs any kind of assistance, and doesn't know where to get it. If they have a problem and need to know what referral is available, they should stop by," Goode said.

Services provided include:

n Screening for the Carson Valley Community Food Closet;

n Assistance with Energy Assistance Program, Medicaid and other resources applications;

n Screening for utility or rent assistance;

n Referrals to support services in and around the community;

n Assistance with medications when there is no insurance.

"We don't want Karen to have the stigma of being 'the welfare lady,'" Goode said. "She's more like a worker to assist them with whatever their needs are.

"We'll do everything we can to help people through any county business. We're trying to be responsive to people's needs. It's so tough right now, just the additional expense of coming into town. If somebody doesn't have to, we don't want them to make that trip."

She said the outreach days may increase if the demand is there.

"Every other part of the county has some DART access," Goode said. "That's why we're looking to TRE first. There is a large population down there and very often they're very independent. They may find they have a need and don't really know where to go."


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