Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies honored three exemplary programs, which provide significant community impact, at their 2020 Winter Legislative Conference on Jan. 30 at the Sheraton in Columbus.
“Community Action Agencies throughout Ohio are developing programs that help their entire communities,” said Philip E. Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies. “We are proud to work with Ohio University to evaluate the best of the best and qualify them as ‘exemplary.’ The programs selected for this award truly shine and can serve as a model for other agencies who may face similar challenges in their communities.”
The West Ohio Community Action Partnership, Ashtabula County Community Action Agency and Ironton-Lawrence County Area Community Action Organization were all recognized for their innovative programming. The OACAA and Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs collaborated to determine the winners, as they work to strengthen community action presence in Ohio.
“These award winners are doing incredible work to help those in need in their local communities. The Voinovich School was honored to partner with the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies in selecting exemplary community action programs,” Margaret Hutzel, Voinovich School senior project manager, said.
The No Excuses program through the West Ohio Community Action Partnership was developed to identify and assist vulnerable populations in securing shelter. The program collaborates with over 28 community partners, enabling them to accept any family that seeks help with no income requirements. The flexibility of the program ensures that previously untapped resources, such as hotels, can be utilized to provide shelter in emergency situations.
“West Ohio CAP is happy to be recognized for the impact of the work that we do in our community,” Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Fox said. “The strength of our impact is predicated on the strength of our partnerships locally to meet the needs of our community. We are happy to have such great community partners.”
The Dragon Empowerment Center, coordinated by the Ashtabula County Community Action Agency, connects schools with communities to provide valuable services to students, parents and teachers. In addition to traditional educational services, the schools provide food distributions, basic healthcare provision, tutoring, mental health services and a variety of workshops. All services are located on school grounds, removing barriers to resource access faced by struggling families in the school district.
"All children should have the chance to come to school ready-to-learn," said Judith Barris, Executive Director, ACCAA. "We know that sometimes families need a little help meeting their basic needs. The Dragon Empowerment Center provides wrap around supports and connections to resources that help meet those needs, so that all students, families and the community can be more successful."
Finally, the Recovery to Work Program, coordinated by the Ironton-Lawrence County Area Community Action Organization, connects recovering individuals to comprehensive treatment, employment services and professionals. The program’s ability to bring partners together takes advantage of community strengths and creates a holistic environment. As a result of this collaborative approach, Recovery to Work participants achieve a 30% private employment placement rate following completion of the program.