Voucher System for Emergency Assistance

Inter-Church Ministries Programs — VSEA

Our Programs

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Voucher System for Emergency Assistance (VSEA)

Daily, pastors and church staff are approached by people asking for money for groceries, gasoline, lodging and other urgent needs of the poor, homeless and disenfranchised.  With area businesses closing monthly and with daily living costs increasing, more and mroe families are finding themselves financially unable to meet their needs.

Congregations are faced with a challenge:  to be good stewards of God’s gifts, but yet be compassionate and caring for God’s children.

In 1994, Inter-Church Ministries of Erie County developed the Voucher System for Emergency Assistance.  It aids pastors and congregations in their ministry to families with emergency needs.  Through the use of vouchers and a central database, the VSEA Program enables congregations to respond to pastoral needs and yet, be assured the recipients are not misusing the resources offered.

Congregational Participation

To be a participating congregation, a church or religious organization is asked to donate to a common pool of funds, which is used for direct client aid. The amount a congregation donates varies depending on resources and need. The congregation can draw from the pool as needed. In addition, they are asked to contribute to the administrative needs of the program.

The VSEA Program provides:

  • A joint and cooperative ministry of local congregations;
  • A means of giving aid through the use of vouchers redeemable at various local merchants;
  • A system that discourages the misuse of resources and promotes good stewardship;
  • A central clearinghouse of information;
  • 24/7 online assistance for pastors and congregations in this ministry;
  • A staff to manage the financial aspects of the program.


Individual Qualifications

To qualify for assistance an individual must:

  • Access the program through a participating congregation;
  • Have an emergency need that cannot be met by any other agency;
  • Have some form of identification;
  • Understand the limits of the program and not misuse the aid received.

In addition:

  • Households are limited to one voucher in a six-month period;
  • Households are limited up to three vouchers or $100 in a lifetime.
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