PERU — A handful of nonprofit groups and service agencies in Miami County will begin requiring clients to participate in community service projects in order to receive financial assistance.

The new program is being administered by the Miami County Resource Network, which began partnering with community agencies in August to help facilitate outreach programs to those in need.

Debi Wallick, who leads the resource network, said they began giving service groups the option to implement the program last month after Peru Mayor Jim Walker pitched the idea to the group.

Agencies that participate in the program may require clients in need of financial assistance to complete community service hours doing things like sprucing up city parks, cleaning creek banks, planting trees or completing small repair jobs at playgrounds.

Clients also could be required to clean, paint or help out at any of the 10 agencies that are currently part of the Miami County Resource Network.

Wallick said clients who don’t complete the community service hours would not be permitted to come back for more financial assistance until the hours were fulfilled.

“This gives clients more self-worth and accountability,” she said. “They’re not just getting something for free, but also giving back to the community. This is their way of paying it back.”

Those who are unable to complete service hours due to an impairment or handicap would be required to attend classes on finance budgeting and parenting.

Two service agencies have signed on to the program so far, and two more are likely to also implement it, Wallick said.

She said businesses, township trustees or other groups in the county can submit project ideas that clients could work on to gain community service hours.

A part-time worker with the Miami County Resource Network will oversee the program, Wallick said.

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