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Jobless can find assistance here under one roof at ‘Benefits Fair’



If you are facing financial hardship because of the recent downturn in the coal industry or other factors, Whitesburg-based Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation is extending a hand this week to help you find any assistance to which you may be eligible.

MCHC, which operates the Whitesburg Medical Clinic and other facilities in Letcher, Perry, Harlan and Owsley counties, is hosting the first of what it hopes becomes an annual Eastern Kentucky Assistance Benefits Fair.

The fair, which is designed to assist those who have recently lost their job or face other incomerelated hardships, will be held Thursday (June 28) from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on the campus of Letcher County Central High School at Ermine in the new Letcher County Vocational and Technical School.

Federal, state and local agencies will be on hand with at least two banks and other businesses to provide information on any financial benefits, retraining programs or other assistance they may be able to offer. There is no admission charge, and everyone is welcome to attend.

Among the 25 to 30 agencies and others that have committed to join MCHC at the event are the Kentucky Career Center Office for Employment and Training, the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, the Leslie-Knott-Letcher-Perry Community Action Agency (LKLP), Hazard Community and Technical College, and the Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services.

Also scheduled to attend are representatives of the Senior Community Service Employment Program, Respiratory Clinics of Eastern Kentucky (black lung), the Letcher County Health Department, Community Trust Bank, and Whitaker Bank.

MCHC director L.M. “Mike” Caudill said the idea to bring all the agencies and businesses together under one roof to offer help to those in need grew from the realization that many of the miners who have been laid off recently are too young to have remember any of the previous “bust” cycles the coal industry has encountered.

“All said and done the economy has been doing pretty well here for us for a substantial amount of time,” Caudill said. “A lot of people don’t know the boom and bust cycles we used to have.”

Caudill said the rash of coal layoffs is affecting workers in nearly every business in Letcher and surrounding counties.

“It cannot help but affect all of us,” he said. “You may not be working in the mines, but it sure affects you. We are all in this together.”

Persons wishing more information about the benefits fair may call MCHC employees Joshua Richardson at 633-4871 or Angie Couch at 633-4823.

“We’re just trying to make it a one-stop shop for the person who may need benefits or needs to know just what their rights are,” said Caudill.



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