Morgan Taylor / Journalist
OKEMAH, Oklahoma – Inside the Okemah Elderly Nutrition Center, the American Rescue Plan Act Direct Assistance Support Team has helped the citizens of Muscogee (Creek) apply for the Direct Assistance Program, Cards vaccine incentive campaign and NetSpend at a community outreach event on November 4.
According to Nancy Watson, a citizen of Muscogee (Creek) and a member of the Okemah community, many in her community are struggling with the process.
Watson claimed that a meeting was held to discuss NetSpend cards prior to the request. Okfuskee District officials Travis Scott and President Randall Hicks were on hand to listen to citizens’ concerns.
After explaining how funds would be distributed on NetSpend cards, Watson said citizens’ response to this type of distribution was not satisfactory.
For Watson, the biggest concern is taking care of âhis eldersâ.
âI am an elder,â Watson said. “So those who are older than me, I try to help them.”
Watson took the time to read the NetSpend guidelines and found things that worried him.
âIt’s too difficult,â Watson said. âThere are too many fees associated with NetSpend and we are not getting our full amount. “
Muscogee (Creek) citizen and Okemah community member Simian Lee agreed with Watson’s statement.
Lee claimed he received help submitting his request on day one and still hadn’t heard from the Tribe or NetSpend.
âThat’s why I came here today,â said Lee. âI want to know where my money is.
Watson and Lee were called in for help from representatives on their particular issues and both were resolved quickly. Each of them had felt better with the process when they left, but still wished the nation had decided to issue checks for direct aid payments.
Even with the direct help of the APRA support team, people with complicated applications encountered obstacles that could be subject to further consideration.
Dustin Truce is not an elderly member of the community but did not have the same experience of the event as the elderly members. The truce did not have a problem with his request, but with his card.
TrÃªve claimed he received his card three days before the event and that she maintained a zero balance.
After speaking with a representative, Truce said he was still unable to resolve the issue with the NetSpend card balance.
NetSpend had asked Truce to provide identification documents, which it claimed to have done and obtained approval from the card company. However, the card has still not received funding.
Truce said that after speaking with NetSpend, they sent him an email stating that MCN refused his request.
“I showed them (the ARPA representative) the NetSpend email where they claimed it was on them (MCN),” he said.
TrÃªve said he was not happy with his results from the event and did not know what to do.
National Council Legislative Communications Specialist Richard Anderson attended these outreach events and collected written statements from citizens regarding issues with the NetSpend application or process.
Anderson claimed the statements had been gathered and turned over to President Randall Hicks, who then turned into Senior Chief David Hill for further consideration.
Dozens of senior citizens or other community members who attended the Okemah event were able to receive help with generally little to no problem.
There are no other outreach events planned at this time beyond the event scheduled at the Glenpool Indian Community Center on November 9 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information on ARPA funds and programs, call the hotline at: 918-549-2885.