Community Action, Inc.’s First Choice Health Center

Rock County ranks fourth in Wisconsin in the level of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). First Choice Health Center, a program of Community Action, Inc., is hosting a free testing clinic in Janesville on August 31 to help reduce those numbers.

The racial disparity among those suffering from STIs is even more striking. The Rock County Health Department reports that while African-Americans make up roughly 5% of the county’s population, African-Americans account for 25% of the chlamydia cases, 57% of the gonorrhea cases and 66% of the co-infection cases (two STIs at the same time).

“African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by sexually transmitted infections in the United States,” says Marc Perry, director of community programs at Community Action, Inc. “That’s all the more reason why it is critical that everyone gets tested and knows their status. When you get tested, you take control of your reproductive health.” Continue reading

$1.5 Million Awarded to Address Behavioral Health in Southwestern Wisconsin

The Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program, working with a multi-sector network of community partners, has been awarded funding through the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW) Endowment at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). The AHW Endowment has announced funding for 10 Community Coalitions through its Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program (HWPP) and its initiative focused on community-based behavioral health. This project will focus on Iowa, Grant, Green Lafayette and Richland counties and will collaborate with several local community partners including all seven region hospitals, all five health departments, many other social service, health care and other agencies and in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Continue reading

Innovative Southwest CAP Program Helps Overcome Language Barriers to Self-Sufficiency

An innovative program operated by the Southwest Community Action Program is having impressive results helping local residents learn English as a second language.

The Southwest Wisconsin Multicultural Outreach Program run by Southwest CAP is helping individuals who can’t speak English overcome barriers keeping them from achieving economic self-sufficiency. Southwest CAP is the designated Community Action Agency serving Richland, Grant, Iowa, Lafayette and Green Counties.

Instruction is primarily done one-on- one in homes, but it also occurs in bigger groups at community churches, libraries and the like. The privately-funded program was launched in Iowa County five years ago as the Hispanic population continued to increase in the area. The program now includes Grant, Lafayette and Richland Counties. Continue reading

Racine Kenosha CAA Helps Low-Income Navigate the Complex World of Purchasing Health Insurance in the Marketplace

The Racine Kenosha Community Action Agency (CAA) has partnered with the Covering Wisconsin organization to provide healthcare navigator services to communities in its service area.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare navigators are supported by federal dollars to provide consumers, small businesses and their employees with unbiased help understanding options available through the marketplace and in completing eligibility and enrollment forms. While this important work is conducted throughout the year, the open enrollment periods provide the biggest challenge to meeting consumer needs.

Throughout the 2014-15 open enrollment period, CAA navigators noted an increasing need to help consumers organize and understand the materials they received as part of the enrollment process. Consumers often came to appointments with envelopes, loose papers and folded printouts of income history, legal notices and communications from various state and federal agencies. At the same time, the enrollment process requires consumers to establish accounts on the marketplace website with user names, passwords and security questions. Completed applications produce 16-page eligibility determination documents with important dates, application numbers and instructions for providing verification information. Finally, plan selection provides consumers with insurance premium, deductible, out-of-pocket maximum amounts and co-pay/coinsurance amounts. Even the most prepared consumer was inundated with information and documents which, upon returning home, probably seemed overwhelming. Continue reading

SWCAP: Transitioning to a New Ethnic Reality

Southwestern Wisconsin, the region served by the Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP), like other rural areas of Wisconsin and of the Midwest, is experiencing a dramatic shift in its demographic profile. No matter where one looks in terms of census data, community planning and/or economic development, size of school systems, church attendance, etc., the realities of the shift hit home. What one sees is the following:

  • The overall population will not grow or will actually decline. The current population for the five counties served by SWCAP (Grant, Green, Iowa, Lafayette and Richland) is 148,090 and is expected to grow to 158,485 by 2030 – or only a 7% increase overall. In some counties, the overall population is expected to drop.
  • The population of retirement age is expected to grow from 25,235 in 2015 to 38,820 in 2030, or an increase of 58%. The population is projected to get much older.
  • The total school enrollment in CESA 3 for the region dropped from 23,026 in 2001 to 19,554 in 2014, or a 15% drop – with some communities experiencing a more dramatic drop in enrolled children.
  • The average age of farmers in 1992 was 50 years of age. In 2012, it was 57 years of age. Recently, in Wisconsin, it was calculated at 63 years of age. As these farmers begin to ratchet down and approach retirement age – or the age where they cannot be as physically active working on the farm – the transition to younger farmers or farm workers will be a crucial issue.

Continue reading

Remembering Karl Pnazek

Karl Pnazek, long-time CEO of CAP Services and a state and national leader in the Community Action movement, died peacefully at home with his wife Bonnie at his side, after a courageous battle with brain cancer and the health challenges that too often come with a cancer diagnosis.  The loss brings deep sorrow for Bonnie, their son Brandon and his wife April and their children, and their extended families.

Karl’s reach was wide and deep and as such the loss is felt by literally thousands of people who had the privilege to work with him and those whose lives were made better by the resources and opportunities created under his leadership.  Others knew him only through his frequent open letters to the local paper but even they came to understand this man’s core was made up of integrity, innovation, insight and initiative. He was often described as the smartest man people ever knew.   He mentored many and inspired more.  He called out unfairness when he saw it and had high expectations of people.  He was tough too and often said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  He didn’t often back down and that may have been what led to his many successes. Continue reading

NCCAP: The Challenge Poverty Presents to All of Us

At North Central Community Action Program, Inc. (NCCAP) we work with low-income individuals and families who face multiple challenges in their lives. This is not a new concept for our organization or for any Community Action Agency. Low-income people as a whole have many obstacles to overcome. Whether it is limited income, housing and homelessness, health issues, mental health diagnoses, issues caused by victimization or dysfunctional family dynamics low-income people have many issues that impact their lives and make life challenging. These challenges make providing services challenging as well.

At NCCAP our mission is to act as an advocate, provider, and facilitator of programs and services for low-income individuals in Lincoln, Marathon, and Wood Counties (Wisconsin). 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. As far as missions go, we feel that this mission is a good one. Our Board of Directors adopted this mission and it is appropriate for our organization. Our mission meets national performance standards for a mission statement in the Community Action world and provides guidance and direction for the services we provide to our clients. We take pride in our approach to working with low-income people and this has been the case since we first began as an organization in 1966. Continue reading

The Foundation for Rual Housing is Improving the Homes of Older Adults

Rural Housing-Picture-Couple at RampA home repair and improvement pilot program designed to help older adults stay in their homes is being piloted by the Foundation for Rural Housing, Inc. The program provides older adults the opportunity to match their repair needs with the best financing and contractor.

The program, called OAHIP, for Older Adults’ Home Improvement Program, is a collaborative effort of the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Eagle Country, the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Green Lake, Waushara and Adams counties, Summit Credit Union and Rural Housing. It also includes others in each County who wish to be involved from volunteers to Community Action Agencies, Community Development Block Grantees, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Habitat for Humanity. Local aging offices are the main contact point. Continue reading

Community Action, Inc.: The Brotherhood of Fatherhood

Antonio Hickman (left) and Erick Williams (right), Fatherhood Initiative.

Antonio Hickman was 18 years old before he ever met his dad. His grandmother called him to the front door one day, where he found a man he’d never seen. His father.

“I just got out of jail,” the man said.

“Why?” asked Antonio. His father jabbed a finger at him: “You.” “Me?!” The man nodded.

“He said it was something to do with child support,” Antonio explained, shaking his head. “That was the first and last time I met my dad. I vowed to never be that person to my kid.”

Antonio first found his way to Community Action in 2012, when he was a participant in the Fatherhood Initiative. Since 2007, the program has helped hundreds of men—fatherless fathers, many with criminal histories, or unemployed, or behind in child support and out of touch with their kids—to get back on track.

Several times a year, about a dozen men go through the months-long Fatherhood Initiative program, showing up at Community Action’s Pathways Center at 8 a.m. sharp, Monday through Friday, to learn about parenting skills, relationships, fatherhood, nutrition, budgeting, setting up a household, getting a job, maintaining a job, catching up on fees. Meditating and mindfulness, even. Putting things back on track. Righting their lives. It becomes more than just a program about parenting or a seminar on interviewing skills. The men bond, there’s a camaraderie. Continue reading

NEWCAP to Begin Operation of Tenant-Based Rental Assistance in Rural Brown County

NEWCAP, Inc. has announced that it has been given authority from the State’s Division of Housing to provide short-term housing to homeless families and individuals in Brown County (excluding the City of Green Bay).

According to Debbie Bushman, NEWCAP’s Housing Director, the program, called Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA), is currently serving people in nine other northeast Wisconsin counties and will now be able to address a definite need in Brown County, as well.

Individuals in the TBRA program can receive up to twelve (12) months of rental assistance after committing to working on a program of self-sufficiency. Each participant will be assigned a NEWCAP Case Manager who will work out a mutually acceptable plan to reach designed goals.

To be eligible for the program, the person – or family – has to be: (1) literally homeless at the time of application; (2) at imminent risk of being homeless; or (3) currently residing in a homeless shelter. Preference is given to applicants who have a disability, with those suffering from mental illness topping the eligibility preference list.

The intake process involves rating applicants, based on a certain critical hierarchy of need called the Vulnerability Index – Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool, or VI-SPDAT. Those scoring the highest on this intake application receive preference for program services.

According to NEWCAP’s CEO, Robert Koller, the TBRA program “… is another effective tool in helping homeless people move from a status of helplessness to one of hope.”

Individuals interested in applying or in getting more information should contact NEWCAP at 1.800.242.7334 and ask for information and help with emergency housing.