A new group is organizing to assist Powell residents in need of financial help. Billed as the Powell Cares Alliance — and run by the city’s police department chaplains and local churches — the group is replacing the Powell Council of Community Services.
The independent non-profit alliance gets underway next week, meeting for the first time under the leadership of of the Powell Police Department Coordinator of Chaplains Chuck Hewitt. The rest of the board will be set up during their first meeting Wednesday. Well-seasoned in ministry and counseling, Hewitt is also the current president of the Powell Ministerial Association.
For day-to-day emergency needs — such as a meal, a tank of gas or the cost of a child’s prescription — the Powell Cares Alliance has a maximum limit of $75 worth of vouchers available.
“But we have folks that need more,” Hewitt said.
For those needing assistance with larger issues, including utility bills and rent, the alliance will accept applications; all requests will be made at the Powell Police Department.
Hewitt will receive the applications immediately after they’re completed. Decisions can come immediately by Hewitt, but typically the requests will go before a five-member board of local pastors. “Between us all we’ll decide how we can help that person,” Hewitt said.
Those with larger needs will be required to go through counseling.
In those situations, he said the organization will not only be concerned with a person’s immediate emergency, but also “what they will do tomorrow” to fix the issues. The alliance will have resources on-hand for continuing counseling, job banks and state and federal assistance resources.
“It’s all there,” Hewitt said. “They just have to be willing to look.”
The change in the name and structure of the organization followed the departure of the two longtime leaders of the Powell Council of Community Services. Dave Blevins led the council as president for 35 years before leaving to concentrate more time on family and his insurance agency. Blevins had asked Hewitt to approach the ministerial association about taking over the service — and he’s thrilled with the passing of the torch.
“Pastor Hewitt is experienced, compassionate and has a plan to make himself available,” Blevins said. “He will do well.”
Hewitt hopes to keep Blevins and former council vice president Jim Carlson as advisers as the group transitions into the future. “There’s a lot of wisdom there,” he said.
For Hewitt, this is a second career. Previously the dean of an agricultural college on the West Coast and a minister for a home schooling organization, he and his wife Lila intended to move into ministry full-time in retirement. But they weren’t ready to lead a church.
“For some reason, the Lord brought us here,” he said.
That’s when Hewitt trained to be a chaplain and began his job with the Powell PD. He has been a chaplain in Powell for the past three years. It’s a different sort of ministry — one that doesn’t include proselytizing. The primary role of a chaplain is to assist police officers dealing with the stress of their day-to-day duties.
“The focus of a chaplain is the employees of the police department and their families,” he said. “We have more than our share of difficult situations that they go through.”
It’s not a chaplain’s job to convert police officers or members of the public; if someone asks for spiritual assistance, chaplains will refer them to the many churches in town.
Hewitt is also a chaplain with the Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Civil Air Patrol. Chaplains also respond to police calls involving suicides, domestic disputes and other family issues.
Hewitt said many times financial issues are at the root of issues causing stressful situations. That experience is where Hewitt feels he is well suited to lead the alliance.
“Financial stress becomes a thorn in a family’s side,” he said. “There’s a lot of times they can’t do anything about it. It builds and builds until they take out their stress on each other.”
Hewitt said his new role with the Powell Cares Alliance will be to help those needing assistance learn to stand on their own.