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Community Action Association and Ohio University’s Voinovich School honor two outstanding Ohio programs

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Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies honored two programs, which provide significant community impact, at their 2020 Winter Legislative Conference on January 26.  For the first time, this event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ohio’s Community Action Agencies have a history of developing innovative programs tailored to the needs of their unique communities,” said Philip E. Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies. “This year’s exemplary program awardees have demonstrated success and are worthy of this recognition. The programs they built will undoubtedly become strong models for others who seek to create similar achievements in their communities.”

Miami Valley Legal Clinic and Akron Summit Pathways HUB were selected as this year’s honorees. The OACCA and Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs determined the winners for their commitment to strengthening community action presence in Ohio. Five reviewers including three faculty and staff with the Voinovich School and two retired Community Action Directors scored the submissions and recommended the winners.

“The Voinovich School is honored to work with OACAA on identifying and rewarding such exemplary work,” Margaret Hutzel who coordinates the project noted.

The Miami Valley Legal Clinic is operated by the Miami Valley Community Action Partnership and provides legal assistance to individuals lacking resources with pressing legal challenges. The program addresses critical needs like driver’s license suspensions, criminal record expungement and housing issues. Through addressing these issues, the Miami Valley Legal Aid Clinic aids individuals in acquiring and maintaining employment.

“Having created a wildly successful and singularly unique legal clinic, we are both humbled and privileged to be on the frontline providing legal assistance in fighting the current eviction crisis and removing barriers to long-term self-sufficiency,” said Randy Smith, lead attorney and director of the Miami Valley Legal Clinic.

The other honoree, the Akron Summit Pathways HUB, is operated by the Community Action Akron Summit and works to improve birth outcomes in the Akron area. The program uses community health workers to support at-risk women during their pregnancies. The Pathways HUB also links expectant mothers to needed services and treatments that low-income, at-risk women may encounter.

“The mission of Community Action is to reduce poverty and promote self-sufficiency; we are historically deeply rooted in addressing poverty and the social determinants of health,” said Malcolm J. Costa, CEO and President of Community Action Akron Summit. “We are extremely proud of the strengths of the staff and the programs outcome-based performance measures.”