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Furlough Open House planned at area church Thursday

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - An open house for furloughed workers, and those negatively affected by the partial government shutdown, is planned for Thursday.

It's at First Baptist Church on Governor's Drive in Huntsville on January 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The event will be held at the church's area called The Gathering Place. You can come to Entrance 7, but church leaders advise that you can use any entrance and someone will help you find the open house when you arrive.

The text alert sent out to those who may be impacted said civil servants and contractors are invited to the voluntary event, where they can learn more about resources available to furloughed employees.

"There are going to be people here to offer advice on finances. A couple of credit unions will be here. There is going to be opportunities for temporary employment, explanations about unemployment benefits. Even help with groceries," said Travis Collins, Senior Pastor. "I would say that the feel is much like a job fair. There are lots of tables, and people will be able to go wherever they need to go that is of interest and of help to them."

Expected to be there include local government agencies, local financial institutions, support services, food assistance services, short-term employment information, and other organizations for employee support.

While the event is being held at the church, Pastor Collins said the church is not organizing it. A volunteer group started the effort.

"Frankly, we are getting more credit than is due. We are just hosting the event," Collins stated. "I got a call on Monday morning from someone from Marshall Space Flight Center who said, 'Hey, we are going to pull together some folks from the community to offer some assistance, and we need a place to host it."

Collins said he jumped at the chance because he knows how much this community depends on government jobs.

"Lots of people are feeling it," he said. "This was a no-brainer. We like to say we are a church at the heart of the city. And truly, this is a great city that people would volunteer to put this together, offering assistance to our fellow Huntsvillians."

Hundreds of people are expected.

"This is a community event," Pastor Collins said.

He doesn't want anyone to feel ashamed to take advantage of the resources.

"There's not any judgment. There is no shame. This is not anybody's fault. For anyone to say 'I need some assistance temporarily,' there's nothing to be ashamed of about that."

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