ROCKETTE FAMILY & COULEECAP – A HOMELESS PREVENTION PROGRAM SUCCESS STORY

Cindy Rockette grew up in Tomah, Wisconsin, knowing the ways of the cranberry marshes, the ever-present military personnel, the intimacies of small town life.

She has always worked for a living, making sure that the payment on her vehicle is up-to-date and that her rent is current. She takes care of her one daughter still at home, and keeps up with her older daughter. She volunteers with the Friends of Veterans, which built five homes in Tomah for vets last year. Cindy lives close to the financial edge, but she makes it work.

That is, it worked until something out of her control went wrong. One cold January day in 2011, Cindy received a call at work. A friend had stopped by Cindy’s rental home to check on a new puppy and the carbon monoxide alarm was going off. The puppy was removed, the furnace-repair guy called, and the result: the furnace was malfunctioning and needed to be shut down immediately. It couldn’t be fixed and it needed to be replaced. In some ways, this was a lucky catch. The repairman said that Cindy and her 15-year-old daughter were likely being slowly poisoned by carbon monoxide.

“He said we were lucky to be alive,” Cindy says.

Suddenly, the weeks of headaches made more sense. Okay, Cindy thought, we’ll just go stay with my parents (who also live in Tomah) until the landlord replaces the furnace. After all, Cindy had submitted an offer to buy the home, and the owner had accepted the offer, so figuring out the furnace should be a small thing.

But sometimes, a small thing can rock a world to the point of breaking.

In Cindy’s case, the malfunctioning furnace had left her with a huge heating bill for the month of January. The landlord also decided that Cindy was responsible for the full cost of a new furnace. Cindy said that the price of the new furnace should be taken off the price of the house.

The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, and ultimately, the landlord not only ripped up the accepted offer, but said Cindy and her daughter had to leave the home for good. He gave them just enough time in their home to pack their belongings. Suddenly Cindy was essentially homeless: living with her parents, responsible for a large heating bill. Not only was that stark reality something to deal with, but her dream of owning her first home was dashed.

Practically speaking, there was no way that Cindy was going to be able to secure a new place, and pay the heating bill, all the while keeping up with her other expenses. It took just one emergency to change her relatively stable life into a crisis that threatened to spin out into a much larger and longer-term problem.

Cindy had never relied on any government or other agency help before. She graduated from Tomah High School and went to a technical college in La Crosse while she raised her two daughters. She lived with her parents for a few months and then she remembered hearing from several people with good experiences with Couleecap, and that the organization had all kinds of ways to help people, so she did some checking.

What she found was an organization designed to help people in just her kind of situation. Cindy wasn’t sure what kind of help she would find, but she figured she would ask. She got more than she expected.

Couleecap’s Homeless Prevention program gave her a list of people who had rentals and who had worked with the agency in the past. Finding a place was streamlined. Couleecap also provided financial help with the first couple months of rent once Rockette secured a place. And finally, Couleecap’s People Helping People fund was able to help her by paying a substantial portion of the heating bill as well.

Couleecap-Success-Story-CRockette

Cindy is now back on track. She and her daughter are established in their new place, and Cindy can focus again on her work and on other important things, like getting her daughter to summer camp. Cindy was thrilled with the support she received.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” she says. “It’s great.”

Cindy says that everyone she dealt with from Couleecap was really easy and respectful.

“They’re awesome,” she says. “A lot of people have the impression that if you have to ask for help, there’s something really wrong with you. Couleecap doesn’t make you feel like a failure, like you’re worthless. They just help you.”

Cindy is thankful for that kind of attitude from the people she worked with at Couleecap. She wants everyone to know about the programs that Couleecap offers.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she says.

Couleecap, Inc. logo

Couleecap, Inc.
201 Melby Street
Westby, WI 54667
Ph. (608) 634-3104
Fax (608) 634-3134
contactus@couleecap.org
www.couleecap.org
Serving: Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties

Different Paths, Same Direction for Healthy African American Babies

Sharon Schulz, CEO of Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency (RKCAA), writes this edition of “Communities in Action.”  In 2007, African American babies were three times as likely to not live to see their first birthday.  To address this public health crisis in Racine, Wis., the RKCAA formed the Greater Racine Collaborative for Healthy Birth Outcomes (GRC4HBO) initiative.  Click here, to read about the RKCAA’s GRC4HBO initiative, which in partnership with community residents, local and state government, and healthcare systems, is improving healthcare access for African American women, strengthening the African American community and families, and addressing social and economic inequities.

West CAP’s Peter Kilde, YWCA of Madison and Logo Designer Receive Awards at “A Home for Everyone” 2013

At the 17th annual A Home for Everyone statewide affordable housing conference recently held in Eau Claire, Wis., two awards for excellence in affordable housing were presented. The conference, which brought together over 250 individuals and organizations dedicated to the creation and preservation of affordable housing in Wisconsin, was held at the Plaza Hotel and Suites in Eau Claire on July 24–25, 2013.

Peter Kilde, Executive Director of West CAP (a WISCAP member agency) serving seven rural counties in northwest Wisconsin, was awarded the prestigious Charles M. Hill, Sr. Award for Housing Excellence at the conference. Continue reading

Over 250 Attend “A Home for Everyone” – 2013 Conference Summary

Thank you for joining the Wisconsin Collaborative for Affordable Housing in Eau Claire for the 17th Annual A Home for Everyone conference!

The 17th Annual A Home for Everyone affordable housing conference recently took place on July 24-25, 2013, at the Plaza Hotel and Suites in Eau Claire, Wis. Over 250 attendees participated in the 30 different workshops and plenary sessions. Workshop tracks included a wide array of informative topics in the following general categories: Continue reading

Portage County VITA Site Receives Recognition

August 21, 2013 — Stevens Point, Wis. — The volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) site in Portage County was recently recognized by the Internal revenue Service (IRS) for its growth in 2013. Through a partnership between WISCAP member agency CAP Services, Mid-State Technical College and United Way of Portage County, the free tax assistance program at Mid-State Technical College in Stevens Point prepared 261 returns in 2013, a 51% increase over 2012 services. Continue reading

Different Paths, Same Direction for Healthy African American Babies

On June 29, 2013, the Greater Racine Collaborative for Healthy Birth Outcomes (GRC4HBO) held its first Baby Expo at the George Bray Neighborhood Center. Over 90 families were able to connect with 19 organizations and agencies that provide resources and support for families. Kimberly Seals Allers, nationally known advocate for positive African American birth outcomes and breastfeeding, was in attendance and provided items such as a Medela© electric breast pump and a Boppy® Pillow for giveaways. 

Pictured:  (left) Samantha J. Perry, Project Manager and (right) Kimberly Seals Allers, Author of Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy.

Pictured: (left) Samantha J. Perry, Project Manager and (right) Kimberly Seals Allers, Author of Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy.

This great event, which was front page news in the Journal Times and improved access for individuals who were at a high risk for infant mortality and preterm birth, was a result of over five years of hard work and dedication.

The Greater Racine Collaborative for Healthy Birth Outcomes (GRC4HBO), an initiative of the Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency (RKCAA), formed in 2007 as a response to a public health crisis in Racine, Wis. In 2007, African American babies were three times as likely to not live to see their first birthday. For every 1,000 live births, 23 African American babies didn’t make it to the age of one. This statistic prompted community residents, local and state government, and healthcare systems to come together. The overall goals of GRC4HBO are to reduce the African American infant mortality, reduce the rate of African American babies born before 37 weeks, and reduce the rate of African American babies born weighing less than 5.5 lbs.

GRC4HBO required commitment through sharing resources, information and breaking down silos to work together in a true partnership. Thanks to major partnerships with the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread and the University of Wisconsin-Madision, School of Medicine and Public Health, Wisconsin Partnership Program, the collaborative created a Community Action Plan in 2011. This plan serves as the blueprint for our work in improving healthcare access for African American women, strengthening the African American community and families, and addressing social and economic inequities.

 

A panel of collaborative members during the community action plan launch event at the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.

A panel of collaborative members during the community action plan launch event at the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.

 Since 2007, the GRC4HBO accomplished the following:

GRC4HBO continues to set its sights on improving access and systems that support African American families. Currently, the collaborative is engaged in educating the community about the child support and family court systems, and gathering basic information on the capacity to implement a city-wide breastfeeding initiative in the African American community.

GRC4HBO is a true example of what can happen when community agencies, community residents, healthcare systems and local government decide to actively work together and take different paths in the same direction.

I welcome your comments at sschulz@rkcaa.org.

Sharon Schulz
Chief Executive Officer
Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency

Racine/Kenosha Community Action Agency logoRacine Kenosha Community Action Agency
2113 N. Wisconsin Street
Racine, WI 53402
Ph. (262) 637-8377
Fax (262) 637-6419
www.rkcaa.org

NORTHWEST CSA GROWS A GARDEN

Millie Rounsville, CEO of Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency, Inc. (NWCSA), pens this edition of “Communities in Action.” The NWCSA community garden produced more than 6,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables in 2012—and 36,000 pounds since 2007. Despite the snowfall this spring in Superior, the NWCSA community garden provides fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables to those who otherwise could not afford to purchase these items. Click here to read more.

NORTHWEST CSA GROWS A GARDEN

The growing season for Northwestern Wisconsin is traditionally late May or early June. In all honesty, we had to look on the internet to find out when the growing season begins in Central and Southern Wisconsin. The end of April? Really? That brought some giggles… and then tears of reality; in Superior on May 11th, clad in winter gear with snow falling around us, our staff unloaded food donations from the Postal Drive.

The lack of tropical weather in Superior has not deterred Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency, Inc. (NWCSA) from developing a community garden. This is our 7th season and perhaps the most challenging in terms of planting. In fact, our garden was not officially planted until mid-June—though rain, snow, fog, sleet and cold put us at a disadvantage, we are off to a good start.

Since 2007, the Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency’s community garden provides an abundance of fresh, wholesome fruits and vegetables to those who otherwise could not afford to purchase these items.

Since 2007, the Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency’s community garden provides an abundance of fresh, wholesome fruits and vegetables for those in need.

NWCSA recognizes the importance that fresh fruits and vegetables play in a person’s diet. Fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars and essential vitamins and they help boost the immune system, thereby impacting the body’s ability to naturally protect itself. However, when you are low-income, grocery shopping usually means purchasing the least expensive items you can in order to stretch your food dollar. Often these items are full of starch, calories and fat; it’s hard to maintain a healthy diet if the only thing you can afford to purchase isn’t healthy to begin with.

In 2007, with spade in hand, NWCSA began its first community garden. Through the expert assistance of the Lake Superior Master Gardeners we have been able to provide an abundance of fresh, wholesome fruits and vegetables to those who otherwise could not afford to purchase these items. 

Apple trees and rhubarb flourish in the Northwest CSA Community Garden.

Apple trees and rhubarb grow in the Northwest CSA’s community garden.

Over the years the community garden has grown fresh herbs, Swiss chard, beans, peas, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, peppers, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb. Last year our apple trees began producing; this year we’re trying leaf lettuce. The results of our efforts has been astonishing; last year we picked dozens of quarts of strawberries, nearly 50 quarts of raspberries and several hundred cucumbers, not to mention all the beans and peas. We produced more than 6,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables in 2012 and 36,000 pounds since 2007. 

Onions, tomatoes and carrots are in abundance in the Northwest CSA's Community Garden.

Onions, tomatoes and carrots are in abundance in the Northwest CSA’s community garden.

Of course, with every project come challenges. Temperature extremes, too much or too little rain, critters and a host of other issues need to be addressed as they surface. We have yet to discover the best way to prevent birds from eating all the cherries off our cherry trees, and last summer, we repeatedly (and humanely) removed baby bunnies from the carrot patch.

Often, we receive complements from neighbors and passersby on the beauty and abundance of our garden. Our success is due to staff, community volunteers and the Master Gardeners; from May until October these individuals work diligently to ensure the soil is worked, the seeds are planted and the weeds are weeded. Once the growing season is done, we turn the soil and prepare the beds and wait for spring! And wait, and wait and wait…!  

Beans and potatoes grow in the Northwest CSA Community Garden.

Beans and potatoes flourish in the Northwest CSA’s community garden.

I welcome your comments at mrounsville@northwest-csa.org.

Millie Rounsville
Chief Executive Officer
Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency, Inc.

Northwest Community Service Agency logoNorthwest CSA
1118 Tower Avenue
Superior, WI 54880
Ph. (715) 392-5127
Fax (715) 392-5511
http://www.northwest-csa.org

‘Poverty Matters!’ conference – Calling for Award Nominations

Mark your calendar for the 2013 ‘Poverty Matters!’ conference this September 25–26 in Appleton!

WISCAP is seeking nominations for two special awards that will be presented at the conference:

  • The Courage Award: Recognizes an individual who has overcome barriers in attaining economic and/or emotional self-sufficiency.
  • The Herb Kohl Helping Hand Award: Recognizes an organization or individual that has demonstrated leadership and commitment to addressing the needs of low-income people. Continue reading