In response to the Governor's challenge for churches to assume more responsibility in their communities, Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Alliance for Social Ministry (CCHASM) was born. CCHASM is an alliance of 42 churches of different denominations working together to assist individuals and families whose emergency needs cannot be met through existing governmental agencies. CCHASM has been in existence for nine years, providing assistance with food, fuel, rent, medicine, water bills and electricity. Money for this type of assistance comes directly from CCHASM member churches and some annual funding from the United Way.
People Touching People, a program of CCHASM, utilizes the skills of its membership to provide a variety of services which improve the quality of life for families, allow individuals to remain independent and foster self-sufficiency. People Touching People projects have included transportation for medical appointments, purchases of needed medical equipment, child-care services, mentoring for at-risk teens, appliance repair, yard work, denture purchase, financial counseling and home improvements.
CCHASM works in collaboration with the county social service department, schools, mental health department and other human service organizations. Volunteers screen each client request thoroughly to determine whether the need is an emergency or an on-going problem within the household and family structure. Last year, CCHASM mobilized in excess of $58,000 worth of in-kind donations and 5,970 hours of volunteer service. During this time, CCHASM was able to provide assistance in 692 different situations. The People Touching People program received 113 requests and was able to assist 42 families.
CCHASM recently received a $10,000 Community Development Block Grant to assist in the successful implementation of welfare reform in Chesterfield and Colonial Heights.