The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

May 5, 2013

Celebrating the value of Community Action Month


— May is the time when community action agencies across the country celebrate National Community Action Month. Community action agencies are nonprofit organizations established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight America’s War on Poverty.

Today there are approximately 1,000 community action agencies providing a diverse set of programs that help communities identify and eliminate the causes of poverty and assist low income individuals and families to reach their highest levels of economic and social self-sufficiency.

The West Virginia Community Action Partnership is a network of 16 community action agencies covering all 55 counties.

Raleigh County Community Action Association Inc. (RCCAA) is a part of this network and serves Raleigh County residents through a variety of programs. RCCAA’s major programs include Head Start, Transportation, Homeless Services, Housing Assistance, and a Garage Training Program.

In 2012, RCCAA programs and services aided 4,591 individuals in developing a stronger sense of self-sufficiency. RCCAA impacted the lives of low income community members in various ways including:

- Operating a public transportation program throughout Raleigh County which provided for 61,152 individual boardings

- Allowing elderly, disabled and low income individuals to retain their independence

- Providing Head Start services to 381 families, including pre-school services, health and mental health services, nutrition services and family services

- Providing emergency shelter, nutrition services and case management services to over 789 homeless men, women and children

- Providing rental assistance to 10 families and utility assistance to 18 families; providing hands-on training to 11 auto repair students enabling them to move toward their certification

- Providing 247 individuals with free tax assistance, resulting in $131,908 being returned to low income taxpayers in the form of federal and state tax credits.

Individual community action agencies combine national, state and local funding to create services and programs that change the lives of the nation’s low income individuals and families. The service areas of community action agencies cover 96 percent of the nation’s counties.

The services that community action agencies provide reach large numbers of community members across the country. Community action agencies are a primary source of direct support for the more than 34.5 million people who live in poverty in the United States.

The majority of community action agency program participants are extremely poor, with incomes below 75 percent of the federal poverty threshold, or 14,647 for a family of three. The community action network serves more than 3 million families per year totaling more than 16.2 million individuals.

May is National Community Action Month, which provides an opportunity for people to learn more about local and national community action initiatives.

If you would like more information on community action, services provided in your area, or how to get involved, you can log on to www.communityactionpartnership.com or contact Raleigh County Community Action at 304-252-6396 or www.rccaa.org.