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The Lincoln County Good Samaritan Association, or Good Sam as it’s often called, has been serving the community here in one form or another since 1928.
Currently under the direction of Eugene Emmanuel and Bruce Balsama, the local nonprofit got its start as the Christian Service Center, which grew into the organization Good Sam, established formally in 1982 with Bill Millard as its original chairman. Millard served the organization for many years.
Good Sam here helps individuals and families in need with food and utilities – “We try to make our dollars stretch as far as possible while helping deserving people,” said Emmanuel, the current chair, adding that the organization would particularly like to increase awareness of its services among the county’s older residents.
Located at 208 West Davidson Street in the Ralph Hastings Building, Good Sam offers food boxes, which will feed a family of four for up to one month. Canned goods, sought by the organization, include beans, spaghetti and sauce, tomato soup, fruit, corn, salmon, beef stew, and vegetables. Other goods, which are also accepted, include the following non-perishables, macaroni and cheese, crackers, oatmeal, peanut butter, beans, and rice.
And if funds are available, the organization also strives to help those in need with their utility bill.
“This past year, there were 597 households in Lincoln County that we served, providing them with 1,332 food boxes,” Emmanuel continued, adding that it was able to utilize $5,000 last year for help with utilities. “Much of the money for that part of the program is collected through Fayetteville Public Utilities’ Project Help.”
Project Help is a fund to which FPU ratepayers can contribute – proceeds are turned over to Good Sam and can only be used for the expense of heating for those who are over age 60 and/or disabled, the chairman explained.
Donations can also be used to help residents with the expense of propane during winter months, said Emmanuel, adding that altogether, $9,600 was made available last year to assist with heating needs countywide.
With federal funding to the organization cut, Good Sam does accept donations, which can be sent to the organization at P.O. Box 1212, Fayetteville, 37334. Good Sam’s office is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until 12 noon. You can contact the association’s office at (931) 433-0260.
A retired army sergeant major from Pocono Summet, 20 miles north of Stratsburg, Pa., Emmanuel and his wife, Carolyn, moved from the Pocono’s to Fayetteville in 2003. Along the way, he met Mrs. Louise Gannon and was invited to work with Good Sam, first filling boxes, and soon afterward, he took the reins of the organization.
“I got tired of shoveling snow off the roof,” he said, adding, “I tell people I wasn’t born in Lincoln County, but I got here as soon as I could.”
Balsama moved to Fayetteville in 2006 with his wife, Debra, and daughter, Devon. In September 2007, he suffered a major stroke and found out he also had heart complications. Those two issues combined left him unable to work, and since he had plenty of time on his hands, Emmanuel suggested that he help out with God Sam.
“This not only allowed me to get out of the house and be with people, but it also allowed me to help out in my adopted community,” he said.