NCCAP AmeriCorps Team Serves Greater Wausau Area

North Central Community Action Program’s (NCCAP) mission is to act as an advocate, provider, and facilitator of programs and services for low-income individuals in Lincoln, Marathon and Wood counties. NCCAP seeks to create opportunities for people and communities to obtain skills, identify and utilize resources and explore innovative options necessary to reduce poverty and increase self-sufficiency. One unique way that we serve families is through our AmeriCorps Team in the greater Wausau area.

AmeriCorps members are currently serving at seven local host sites through the NCCAP AmeriCorps Team – Greater Wausau Area program. AmeriCorps members focus on the educational and social success of students and youth from economically disadvantaged backgrounds through tutoring and mentoring activities during school and in afterschool programs. Host sites, including the Wausau School District, the Department of Public Instruction, the Girl Scouts, the YMCA, Storefront Learning Center, the Neighbors’ Place and the Boys & Girls Club, sponsor the members and provide a local match. Along with a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service – Serve Wisconsin, the total investment is worth a bit more than $500,000 annually. The majority of this investment is used to provide a living stipend, an education award and member support to the members who serve.

Since the program began, over 2,000 youth will have benefitted from AmeriCorps members’ tutoring and mentoring. Though the students benefit the most from the individual and small group attention the AmeriCorps members bring to the sites they serve, the members themselves report great gains as they improve their professional skills and gain valuable experience in their careers. The sites benefit significantly from the ability to reach more youth with the help of the grant, as well as from the opportunity and collective impact offered by AmeriCorp members to grow, develop and mature. The community at-large is also a beneficiary of the AmeriCorps program efforts as members engage in community service activities throughout the year. A minimum of 2% of a member’s service is required to be contributed as community service through a variety of projects and activities such as food drives, community dinners, litter sweeps and a number of youth serving community activities such as Chalk Fest, assisting with Fun Runs, and afterschool family programs.

NCCAP AmeriCorps Team members Susan Drake, Sara Zieglmeier, Michelle Bohacek, Melissa Bolsen and Michael Thao at the AmeriCorps Adopt-a-Highway segment on County Highway NN, just west of Wausau.

NCCAP AmeriCorps Team members Susan Drake, Sara Zieglmeier, Michelle Bohacek, Melissa Bolsen and Michael Thao at the AmeriCorps Adopt-a-Highway segment on County Highway NN, just west of Wausau.

Trainings are offered throughout the year, which help members develop professionally and build a sense of identity and belonging in their community and the sites being served. At the end of their year of service, members consistently report a greater sense of worth, value and impact after having served. Many go on to graduate school and continue to serve through careers and opportunities that make a difference in the lives of people in their communities.

Contact me for further information at jsargent@nccapinc.com.

Jeffrey Sargent
Executive Director
North Central Community Action Program

North Central Community Action Program logo

North Central CAP
2111 8th Street South, Suite 102
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494-6154
Ph. (715) 424-2581
Fax (715) 424-0771
http://www.northcentralcap.org

Fond du Lac, Wis. — ADVOCAP, Inc. is seeking a Head Start Director. Visit our Job Openings page for further information about this position and other opportunities available at WISCAP member agencies.

Housing is a Key to Household Stability

Char Thompson, Executive Director of the Foundation for Rural Housing, composes this installment of “Communities in Action.” Thompson identifies the housing services the agency provides with statewide reach and discusses the increasing need to support the growing aging population. She also shares findings from a Needs Assessment completed by food pantry participants—Click here to discover the assessment findings and the vital work Rural Housing is doing to prevent and mitigate homelessness.

Debunking Poverty Myths and Stereotypes

WISCAP member agency Couleecap has released its quarterly Community Concerns report. This quarter’s topic is “Debunking Poverty Myths and Stereotypes.”  In summary:

  • In Couleecap’s four-county service area, almost 29,000 people, including 8,600 children, live at or below the poverty line.
  • Poverty is the exhausting, unending, time-consuming struggle of juggling and just hoping to make ends meet with no end in sight. Poverty robs you of a sense of security and it destroys your self-esteem and your hope for the future. Continue reading

CAP Services Conducts Triennial Needs Assessment

CAP Services has deployed its triennial needs assessment survey; the WISCAP member agency is surveying residents of its five-county service area—Marquette, Outagamie, Portage, Waupaca and Waushara counties—to gather information to help plan future programs. The survey results will assist CAP staff and board members in setting programmatic priorities for the three year period beginning in 2014. Continue reading

Wisconsin Poverty Report

June 18, 2013 — Madison, WI — The Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has released its Fifth Annual Report of the Wisconsin Poverty Project. The report summary states, “In times of need, a safety net that enhances low earnings for families with children, puts food on the table, and encourages self-reliance—as Wisconsin’s safety net does—makes a big difference in combating market-driven poverty. But as this year’s report suggests, cuts in that safety net without substantial improvement in the underlying economy can produce an increase in poverty.” Click here for the Wisconsin Poverty Report.

Housing is a Key to Household Stability

The Foundation for Rural Housing Inc. (Rural Housing) is a statewide, special purpose agency working closely with Wisconsin’s Community Action Agencies (CAAs). As might be suspected, our services have a bias in favor of housing. In these hard economic times, many agencies focus on jobs. However, it is hard to hold a job if there is a constant worry about where you or your family will be sleeping tonight or a week from now.

For many years, the number of homeless individuals and families in Wisconsin has been far too great. Rural Housing seeks to prevent or mitigate homelessness. This goal is helped by Critical Assistance funds from the State of Wisconsin Division of Housing which provide the ability to help pay security deposits or rent. This assistance helps families move into an affordable place or stay in their current home. As a statewide agency, we coordinate closely with local CAAs and other agencies to fill the gaps when they are out of funds.

Homeowners on low- or fixed-income are facing many of the same problems as homeless individuals and families. While the number of lenders foreclosing on properties has slowed in the last year or so, many counties are taking more assertive action related to delinquent property taxes. Many senior citizens no longer have a mortgage; property taxes have become their largest expense. This is especially true when their Social Security check is less than $900 a month. Rural Housing works with homeowners and the county treasurers to negotiate monthly payments that can be made to get these households back on track. With our help, along with homestead tax credit and critical assistance funds, these citizens can stay in their home. This is where they generally want to be and it is definitely more cost-effective for the State.

We take a similar approach in cases related to delinquent mortgage payments. In these cases, we work closely with the lender to help create a situation the homeowner can sustain.

Rural Housing recently performed a housing needs assessment via participants at food pantries across the state. Current responses show that preventing homelessness is the No. 1 priority of these individuals; 50 percent indicated a risk (from ‘low’ to ‘high’) of becoming homeless.

Repairs in owner occupied homes was the No. 2 priority; the four types of repairs most commonly identified were painting, roof work, the installation of insulation and windows. We are working with a group of agencies to develop more ways in which clients, especially seniors, can afford to do necessary repairs and modifications so they can age in place. In the past, we developed a successful volunteer-based repair program in 42 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Although funding for this initiative ended some time ago, several of the counties involved continue to maintain programs that were initiated by the earlier Rural Housing effort. It may not be as glamorous as new construction, but something as simple as the installation of a grab bar may prevent a life-threatening fall.

It will take cooperation among numerous agencies to support the daily lives of Wisconsin’s growing aging population. According to the 2010 Census, approximately 23 percent of Wisconsin’s population is now over age 65. Most live on fixed-incomes and many are below the poverty line. If we as WISCAP member CAAs and special purpose agencies can facilitate programs to make homes safe and energy efficient, then, perhaps our elderly fellow citizens can live comfortably and continue to contribute to their communities.

Please feel free to contact me at ruralhousing@tds.net.

Char Thompson
Executive Director
Foundation for Rural Housing, Inc.

Foundation for Rural Housing logoFoundation for Rural Housing
4506 Regent Street
Madison, WI 53705
Ph. (608) 238-3448
Fax (608) 238-2084
http://www.wisconsinruralhousing.org/