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'Help' not just a four-letter word

Kristy Richardson is the person in charge of the Blackduck Resource Center, staffing the office on Main Street in front of the History & Art Center. Both are located in the old Charlie's Super Valu building.1 / 2
If it's a problem, someone with expert information has probably written about it and if so, that help is often contained in one of the scores of pamphlets at the Blackduck Resource Center. Service access specialist Kristy Richardson is always ready and willing to answer questions and provide the information requested.2 / 2

As other agencies have cut back, the work of the Blackduck Resource Center has become even more important. Soft spoken Kristy Richardson looks at the pamphlets covering the wall in her office and the even larger array of information in the reception area in front.

It's not her degree in sociology that brings her to this Main Street office in Blackduck, she tells a visitor. "I just like to feel I'm helping people."

Working in Duluth among adults coping with developmental disabilities, Richardson found that effort more personally rewarding than sitting in a cubicle doing research. When her husband accepted a sales position in Bemidji, she moved with him.

They'd met while both were at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and have been married three years; about the same length of time they've shared their dog which, she admits, again with a smile, is "like our child -- for now."

Richardson spends three days a week in Blackduck. Help, she says, covers so many things.

During the cold weather, there were energy assistance applications as people in need were given help in paperwork entitling them to financial assistance in paying for electric or propane service and even in many cases, getting loads of wood.

The center helps with a lot of paperwork, she says, ranging from finding someone to show how tax forms need to be done, how Minnesota-Care applications are done, what Medicare and Medicaid paperwork entails, what commodity box programs provide and how to contact other agencies.

"There used to be a gas voucher program," but it's no longer done, she said, "and with gas prices where they are and so many agencies moving back to their Bemidji offices, we could really use it now." It's one more reduction due to tighter budgets.

Tighter budgets have also prompted attention to more networking among non-profit agencies and more dependence on organizations including Community Resource Connections.

Richardson identifies herself as a Service Access Specialist and is currently working on updating the directory of such services in this area. Online, she's also at work seeking volunteers who can offer their special abilities to help others.

That includes such things as working with Diane Mostad April 12 at the Health Fair at the new library in the Old School Center in Kelliher.

Mostad is looking for donations of books if anyone has some they would like to get rid of.