To kickoff Community Action Month, WISCAP held its annual luncheon and awards ceremony on May 2. The association presented these awards on behalf of its network of sixteen Community Action Agencies, the Foundation for Rural Housing and UMOS so as to recognize individuals or organizations who have gone above and beyond in helping to improve and further the goals of Community Action in Wisconsin in fighting poverty.

WISCAP’s Outstanding Friend of Community Action Award was presented to Jay Jones (nominated by Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program). Much of Jay’s work was wonderfully aligned with SWCAP’s mission, even when the agency was not directly involved. Jay has been responsible for bringing hundreds of millions of dollars of Federal financial assistance to Wisconsin. According to his managers and colleagues at USDA, he has also overseen the use of these Federal funds, such that all his projects are completed on time and on budget without complaints of fraud, waste or abuse. The outcomes of these projects include jobs created and saved, improved response time for health care facilities, and improved environmental conditions by serving the water needs of southwest Wisconsin. Not only is he considered a valuable leader to his external customers, he is also valued as a consultant and confidant by his co-workers. After serving USDA for 42 years, Mr. Jay Jones is looked upon as a valuable resource by his colleagues at Rural Development and by so many agencies, communities, individuals and families who have been positively impacted by his good work.

WISCAP’s Exceptional Community Action Staff Member Award, which recognizes a Community Action employee who has demonstrated the spirit of Community Action, went to Ms. Connie Henn of CAP Services. Connie received this award due to her work with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Connie does a tremendous job of encouraging taxpayers to save their tax return, and empowers her volunteers to do the same. There were limitations to the IRS software that discouraged savings among CAP Services’ clients and Connie took the initiative to change that. After many fruitless calls and emails, she reached out to the Prosperity Now Taxpayer Opportunity Network, who were able to elevate the issue to their national IRS partner. As a result of her persistence and advocacy, the software company finally deployed an update providing the necessary options for tax filers to split their refunds in a variety of ways.

WISCAP’s Self-Sufficiency Award is meant to recognize an individual who, with the aid of their local Community Action Agency, has achieved self-sufficiency. This award went to Mr. Mike Haas. Mike is an experienced machinist who started his own business, Hasstech Manufacturing LLC, in 2006. In 2012, CAP Services helped Hasstech upgrade equipment with a business loan. Then in 2015, Hasstech lost several contracts due to a decline in retail customer demand. CAP Services helped Hasstech stay afloat and today Mike has recovered nearly 100% of his business.

WISCAP’s President’s Award is chosen by the President of the Association to honor an individual or organization who made a vital impact on the association in the last year. This year, President Wally Orzechowski, recognized WISCAP’s Program and Administrative Staff with the award. In 2017, WISCAP staff weathered a sizable transition period between leadership. Despite that transition, the association still put on several successful events and kept day-to-day operations running smoothly.

In addition to WISCAP’s awards, Brad Wassink, Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, presented the 2018 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Community Action to Racine Kenosha for their success in their Dedicated Dads program. Dedicated Dads helps fathers engage with their families as active nurturing participants in order to create an emotionally balanced and supportive family unit. The strategy is a two-pronged approach to increase father involvement at Women Infants and Children (WIC) visits and Father specific education and support.

WISCAP appreciates all those who attended and participated in this year’s Annual Luncheon and Awards Program. We all look forward to continued accomplishments in the Community Action world during the remainder of 2018.

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