Nine-County Regional Needs Assessment Survey Released

BEAUMONT, September 6, 2014 - When you want to lend someone a helping hand, it’s usually best to find out what they need first.

That’s the idea behind a nine-county regional survey funded by Entergy Texas, Inc. and made a reality through partnerships with Lamar University’s Community Outreach Program and its Center for Public Policy Studies. Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas was also a partner and worked to develop the project and the questions that appeared in the survey.

The study focused on seven issues areas: employment, education, housing, health, nutrition, finances and budgeting and transportation. Surveys were distributed through church

and community organizations, with a Spanish-language version provided to Hispanic congregations as part of a special effort to include that demographic.
“Charitable nonprofit agencies make up a very important safety net for the needy,” said Vernon Pierce, vice president, customer service for Entergy Texas. “In our years of partnering with these agencies, we have come to see how most of them do a great deal of work with very small budgets. Funding this study is a way we could provide information to help them chart their course more effectively. Additionally, the study can be useful to more than just charitable agencies since it does put its finger to the pulse of where people in our region see the greatest need.”

James Vanderleeuw, director of Lamar’s Center for Public Policy, spoke on behalf of his group and Lamar’s Department of Political Science, which actually conducted the study. “It is crucial to nonprofits to have information on the needs of citizens within their communities in order that some services are neither underfunded nor overfunded relative to community needs.”

As an example of the type of information gathered, the first of four questions about unemployment asked respondents to choose from a list of factors that they felt would identify why unemployment is a problem in this area. More than half of the respondents cited the lack of education as the most influential factor.

Other items on the list and the number of respondents identifying them as a problem included: lack of good-paying jobs with benefits, 53 percent; substance abuse, 43 percent; problems with child care, 38 percent; cost or lack of transportation, 34 percent; lack of computer skills, 30 percent; language skills, 27 percent; and employers leaving the area, 22 percent. Only 6 percent said there was no problem with unemployment.

Subsequent questions delved deeper into specific issues involving unemployment. That pattern was repeated for the remaining six issues—education, housing, health nutrition, finances and budgeting, and transportation.

The survey results will be shared generally with nonprofits and others interested in it over the coming days. It will be available by mail or email and will also be provided at quarterly nonprofit networking meetings sponsored by Entergy Texas. Those interested in obtaining a copy may do so by contacting Lamar University’s Community Outreach Program at 409-880-7983.

Entergy Texas, Inc. delivers electricity to more than 426,000 customers in 27 counties. It is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation. Entergy is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including more than 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power, making it one of the nation’s leading nuclear generators. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

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