Barfield takes reins at Bartow County Resource Office
by Marie Nesmith
Aug 04, 2012 | 1857 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Susan Barfield, coordinator of the Bartow County Resource Office, provides assistance to Donnie Buchanan who needs help paying for a prescription.  
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Susan Barfield, coordinator of the Bartow County Resource Office, provides assistance to Donnie Buchanan who needs help paying for a prescription. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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More than two months into her new position, Susan Barfield is delighted to be coordinating the Bartow County Resource Office's services. As a past volunteer for the organization, the Acworth resident learned valuable information about the Resource Office's operations from its former leader, Linda Thomas, who retired in June.

"It's just always been my passion -- is trying to be in a position where I feel like I am making a difference and feel like I am helping," Barfield said. "... We really just try to meet the needs as people have a crisis. ... What's tugging at my heart probably the most is seeing people that are struggling from day-to-day to actually have a safe place to stay.

"We've got some wonderful resources in Bartow County. We really do. We've got shelters. We've got good churches. We've got good community members and I see it make a difference but it's really hard when you see someone that day-to-day just struggles putting a roof over their heads and to try to make ends meet. The job market is getting better but it's still not easy."

Opened in the mid-1990s under Thomas' leadership, the Resource Office currently is located at 140 Douglas St., Suite 103, in Cartersville. Providing services such as food and assistance with utilities and medical prescriptions, the nonprofit meets the immediate needs of residents who are financially struggling, many of whom have been referred by area churches or community agencies.

"I think that this organization is a big asset to the community," Barfield said. "When Linda retired from a full-time position and went to a half-time [position], they discussed letting it go and I think that would have been hard on the community. One thing it does is it gives churches, the individuals and other community agencies access of one place to send people. So that you don't have all kinds of hodgepodging.

"It's one place to get the information and to know the needs. ... One thing Linda had in her head was just a vast knowledge of the resources in the community," she said, adding the nonprofit also refers individuals to other agencies. "There wasn't anybody -- I was amazed -- that walked in the door that she couldn't give some kind of information to. Whether we were actually able to help or not, she gave them something, if it wasn't nothing but a phone number. ... I was really surprised at how much I did know [about this nonprofit] just from watching her."

While Barfield's part-time position is funded by Bartow County government, the Resource Office is a nonprofit that is supported by churches, individuals and community organizations.

"At St. Francis, we call [Linda Thomas our] Mother Teresa," said Lenore DeMarco, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, which supports the Resource Office with finances, food and $5 gift cards to Kroger and Walmart for medical prescriptions. "She's a pretty wonderful lady.

"We have tremendous respect for her. ... We felt so strongly about her leadership and I know that Susan's going to do every bit as well. ... Anyone can go there any time and seek some kind of assistance. It's just so important that it keep moving, that it keep going. We're just so afraid every day that somebody will say, 'Oh, let's don't do that anymore.' We just pray that it stays going."

Tasked with being fiscally savvy with the organization's donations while meeting the needs of the public, Barfield said she is extremely grateful for the community's ongoing support.

"[Linda Thomas] was a very, very good steward of the money and that's why it's important to me to keep to that," Barfield said. "She did not spend their money frivolously. She pinched every dime and every nickel to make it go as far as it would for the community and to help as many people as she [could].

"... I feel very blessed," she said, referring to the nonprofit's network of support in the community. "I think that's what a community should do. The community, it's their job to look after each other and it's their purpose. To me, being able to be in the middle of it and to help do that, I'm very proud to be a member of the Bartow County community. ... I see it as a very caring community."

To donate to or make an appointment to receive services from the Resource Office, contact Barfield at 770-387-3708.