Community Assistance

Dial 2-1-1 on your phone

Every hour of every day, someone in Illinois needs help locating and connecting with essential community services. 2-1-1 is for times of non-emergency crisis as well as for everyday needs. The 2-1-1 call specialists are available to help individuals locate health and human service assistance, on everything from mortgage assistance, EITC tax help and food and shelter, to job counseling services and health resources.



Government Agencies -
Illinois Department of Human Services- Hotline - 800-252-8903
Jefferson County - 333 Potomac Blvd, Mt. Vernon- 618-242-1040
Wayne County - 618-842-2621
Washington County -
Marion County - 800 S Locust, Centralia, Il 618-532-1966

Illinois Department of Children & Family Services-
Jefferson County - #2 Neon Drive, Mt. Vernon - 618-242-8400
Marion County - 219 E Schwartz, Salem, IL - 548-7300

LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)
This is a program that helps low-income families pay for home heating. In order to get LIHEAP, you must either be responsible for paying for your own heating bills or heat may be included in the rent. You do not have to deal directly with a utility company or other energy supplier, but there are exceptions. If you live in subsidized housing, you will not get LIHEAP unless you pay for your own heating bills directly to the utility company. For more information about LIHEAP, contact Crosswalk Community Action Agecny at 618-937-3581
Mon-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Credit Counseling
Credit Counseling Centers, Inc 1-800-539-2227
Office of Consumer Credit Regulation 1-800-332-8529
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act established rules for debt collection. It is illegal for debt collectors to use harassment, false statements, or unfair practices. The Federal Trade Commission has developed resources guides to help consumers find the appropriate agencies to contact about consumer-related matters. These guidelines contain a list of nonprofit, state and local agencies.
For more information regarding your legal rights and responsibilities, contact the Consumer Credit Counseling Service at: 1-866-889-9347 or your attorney.
CLEARPOINT is a local non-profit consumer credit counseling service. Located in the US Bank building at 123 S 10th Street in Mt. Vernon, Suite 205.  Clearpoint provides free personal budget and debt-reduction counseling and education services. Contact 618-241-9102 or 877-877-1995 for more information and assistance.

The Salvation Army assists with people who are trying to assist themselves, but may need some help. Some assistance programs include: Eye glasses, oil assistance, prescription drug assistance, food and clothing. For more information on how to get any assistance in Jefferson County call 618-244-7135 in Marion County call 618-532-5942.

Lower your utility bills by using less electricity, gas and water.
-Turn off the lights and TV when not in use.  
-Replace 100-watt light bulbs with 60watt bulbs or, better yet, compact fluorescent bulbs.
-Use the washing machine and dryer only when you have a full load; use cold water and air-dry clothes when practical.
-Set the thermostat at 68 degrees in the winter.
-Close vents in rooms you do not use.
-Use fans instead of air conditioners in the summer.
-Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 degrees.
-Turn off the heated drying cycle on your dishwasher.
-Consider making payment arrangements with the power company to have a yearly average divided in equal monthly payments, which will help keep high winter electricity bills down.
-Remove unnecessary features from your phone service.
-Have friends or family members call you long distance instead of collect or make calls when rates are the lowest.
-Write letters instead of calling.
-Cancel your TV cable premium channels or eliminate them altogether.
-Consider using a free email only provider or using the internet at your local library.

These are just a few things you could do.

You may qualify for help with your utility bills if you are having trouble paying them, or are threatened with a shutoff. Several programs help those with limited income to make utility payments. Also, assistance in weatherizing homes is available to keep utility costs down. For more information contact: Public Utilities Commission at: 1-(800) 452-4699

THE ILLINOIS HOME WEATHERIZATION PROGRAM (IHWP) is designed to help low income residents save fuel and money, while increasing the comfort of their homes. Its mission is to insulate the dwellings of low-income persons, particularly the elderly, persons with disabilities, families with children, high residential energy users, and households with a high energy burden, in order to conserve needed energy and to aid those persons least able to afford higher utility costs.

General Program Requirements
In order to qualify for this benefit program, you must be a resident of the State of Illinois, your household's annual income before taxes must not exceed $16,245 if one person lives in the household; $21,855 if two people live in the household; $27,465 if three people live in the household; $33,075 if four people live in the household; $38,685 if five people live in the household; $44,295 if six people live in the household; $49,905 if seven people live in the household; and $55,515 if eight people live in the household. For larger households, add $5,610 for each additional person in the home.
Your Next Steps
The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this benefit.
Application Process
To apply for weatherization services, contact the agency provider in your area. For the list of agency providers, go to:
Information on the application process can be found at:

The Child Tax Credit program can reduce the Federal tax you owe by $1000 for each qualifying child under the age of 17.
General Program Requirements
In order to qualify for this benefit program, you must be a parent or primary caregiver responsible for a child(ren) who attends school (high school or under) and you must be in need of Federal income tax information and return preparation assistance.
Your Next Steps
The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this benefit.

Application Process
For more information, see the Program Contact Information below.

Program Contact Information
For additional information contact:
Internal Revenue Service
Tax forms and Publications
1111 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20224
Or visit their website:,,id=106182,00.html

TANF is financial assistance to keep children in their homes while the family is temporarily unable to support themselves. While receiving TANF, parents or caretaker relatives work on an employment plan to become self supporting. TANF provides assistance with:
-Temporary income-vendor payments for unmarried minor parents-direct payments to adults.
-Help to prepare for, find, and keep a job (ASPIRE-TANF Program).
-Help with getting child support (DSER).
-Medicaid medical benefits.
-Help with child care, transportation, and Medicaid as families work their way off TANF.

-Lower your expense costs by conserving entertainment and gifts.
-Limit luxury expenses
-Cut back on things like going to the movies, renting videos, cable TV, CDs, sports, toys and    other recreation.
-Use free sources of entertainment.
-Get free books, video tapes, DVDs and audio books from your local library.
-Use the library’s magazines and newspapers instead of purchasing them elsewhere.
-Eliminate vacations and holiday trips.
-Stay away from malls. This will help reduce impulse buying and high cost items.
-Give personal “Gift Certificates.” Instead of spending a lot of money on expensive gifts, give
personal gift certificates. For example, certificates for babysitting, specially cooked dinners, a
personal car washing, or clean the house valuable yet inexpensive gifts.
-Make craft items or cookies as gifts or thank you.
-Have a yard sale to make extra money and clear out unnecessary household items and
outgrown clothing.

Job Search Services: Many people begin looking for another job as soon as they become unemployed. The information in this section is designed to help you in your search for a job.
Question: Where can I find answers to unemployment compensation questions?
Answer: The U.S. Department of Labor can be most helpful On-line at: Or call the toll-free customer information line at 1-866-487-9243.

 Illinois Department of Employment Security - 618-244-1700
333 Potomac Blvd, Suite E, Mt. Vernon, IL 62864
Illinois Department of Employment Security - Marion & Washington County - 618-532-4741 or 618-532-1851 -   224 N Elm, P.O. Box 827, Centralia, IL 62801

List your skills and experience by reviewing your work history, education/training, interest, and talents (including any other activities such as volunteer work). Develop a resume of your skills and work history.  Remember, even being a parent develops skills, organization, patience, etc.

-Talk to people you know, friends relatives, and acquaintances.
-Your union or professional associates can be valuable resources.
-Prepare for the interviewer.
-Dress appropriately for the interview, and be on time.
-Remember to send a thank you note after all interviews.
-Volunteering in areas of interest can sometimes lead to employment.
-Contact temporary employment agencies. Temporary jobs give you an opportunity to sharpen current skills or develop new ones.
-Check the local newspapers, trade/professional papers and journals. You will find many of these at your local library. Use the local library; they have directories, newspapers,
photocopies, and possibly fax machines, personal computers and internet service.
-Use the internet to run job searches on a variety of employment web sites such as:,,,

Women, Work, and Community
Since 1978, providing community-based employability and entrepreneurship training support groups and services in Maine to displaced homemakers, single parents and other workers in transition. Classes and individual training in the basics of starting a business include developing a business plan.  Entrepreneurship Training Opportunities for those wishing to start and expand a successful business.  For more information call 1-800-442-2092

This program gives income eligible people assistance that they can use to buy food at grocery stores. Any household that meets the income, asset and other basic eligibility rules can get food stamps. A household may be one person or a group of people living, and buying and preparing food together. A person who is a boarder, or lives in an institution (with some exceptions), is ineligible to receive food stamps. You do not have to live with children, be on ‘welfare’ or be elderly or disabled to get food stamps. Many people work and get food stamps.

Here are some ways to cut food costs:
-Plan all meals-including lunches.
-Shop only once a week.
-Buy store brands whenever possible.
-Use coupons & shop stores which offer double coupons.
-Cut back on meats; eat more pasta, rice beans and vegetables.
-Use leftovers for another meal. Buy items on sale or in bulk quantities whenever possible.
-Eliminate snack foods.
-Consider visiting a food pantry or taking advantage of local food bank programs

Application Process
For more information, see the Program Contact Information below.
Program Contact Information
Contact the local Department of Human Services office where you live to apply for the Food Stamp Program. To locate the office nearest you, visit our Web site:
             Jefferson County - 800-252-2873

 You can also visit their Web site to download an application in English or Spanish and directions for how to submit an application:
For more information, contact the DHS 24-Hour Telephone hotline:
            800 843-6154
Visit the USDA pre-screening tool at:


Many food pantries around the state assist people if they meet their income eligibility guidelines. Also check with local churches, many offer community suppers through the year at a low cost, free of charge, or for a small donation.

Jefferson County
 Angels on Assignment      1133 Main Street, Mt. Vernon, IL      618-242-1108
 Central Christian Church      PO Box 632, Mt. Vernon, IL      618-242-2407
 Epworth United Methodist Church      1305 N Main, Mt. Vernon, IL      618-242-5394
 Hams Grove Baptist Church      17735 Garrett Road, Bellrive, IL     
 Park Avenue Baptist Church      900 Park Avenue, Mt. Vernon, IL      618-242-1882
 Prince of Peace Lutheran Church      3205 Broadway, Mt. Vernon, IL      618-242-5143
 Salvation Army      PO Box 1112, Marion, IL      618-339-5854
 Serenity Sanctuary Foundation      16251 N Centralia Ln, Mt. Vernon, IL     
 Shiloh Baptist Church      1015 Conger, Mt. Vernon, IL      618-242-5162
 West Side Baptist Church Food Pantry      2900 Veterans Memorial Dr, Mt. Vernon, IL      618-244-7113
Marion County
 Centralia Benevolent Association      900 E Rexford St, Centralia, IL      618-533-2305
 Gospel Light House Food Pantry      1003 E Poplar, Odin, IL      618-755-8383
 Angel Food Ministries- Eternity Baptist      305 N Beech, Salem     618-533-4541

This federally funded program supplies supplemental foods and nutrition to women who are pregnant or nursing, have infants or children under the age of 5, meet income guidelines of this program, and who have a health or nutritional risk. There is a clause in the guidelines of this program that will allow persons who might normally be over the annual income levels and who experience a sudden loss of regular income (such as a layoff) to become eligible for WIC services. For more information about the WIC program call: 1-800-645-9636.

Most schools and some childcare centers offer hot lunch and breakfast programs for income eligible children. People with children should be aware that if they are without income or have a greatly reduced income their children may now become eligible for these programs. To apply, check with your child’s school or childcare center administration.

PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS: FamilyWize , a prescription drug discount program and 550 United Ways in all 50 states in lowering the cost of prescription medication for people who need help with their prescription costs.  This partnership is saving over $1 million every month wtih a goal of saving over $100 million over the next 5 years.  More than 4 million cards have been distributed and over $7 million have been saved to date nationwide.
United Way of South Central Illinios provides these cards to our community free-of-charge to everyone who needs one.l  There are no age reswtrictions, no income restrictions, no limit on how many times you can use it and no waiting period to get a card.
Just call the United Way at 618-242-8000 or go to the FamilyWize website  for more information or download a card here

If you or a loved one has a disability see for information on employement assistance and  other activities help.