May is National Community Action Month, which is designed to highlight the stories, successes, and indelible impact of the Community Action Movement. At Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties, we belong to a network of more than 1,000 agencies serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
The promise of the National Community Action Network is to “change people’s lives, embody the spirit of hope, improve communities, and make America better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.” Every year our network provides:
1) Early childhood education, health screenings, and other services to one million children and their families through Head Start and Early Head Start.
2) Energy assistance to 6.5 million people, including seniors, that makes their homes more energy efficient and lowers their utility bills.
3) Safe and affordable housing for approximately 220,000 families.
4) Employment services and placement to more than 165,000 individuals.
And, as our local agency (one of 24 in the State of Minnesota) celebrates its 56th year of service to the residents of Ramsey and Washington Counties, we are nimbly responding to the needs of our community through innovative measures and strategies that enable us to serve in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the age of social distancing. For example, our Head Start and Early Head Start (HS/EHS) programs continue to provide educational activities and lessons to more than 1,200 children and their families via tools such as Facebook, Zoom, Google Hangouts, text message, and email. Moreover, HS/EHS staff have arranged for emergency childcare services and are providing nutritious meals to our Head Start kids currently sheltering at home through three food distribution sites.
During the current heating season (which has been extended to July 1, 2020), our Energy Assistance department approved applications for more than 15,000 households resulting in $8 million in home energy assistance and emergency furnace repair/replacement. And, our Community Engagement department continues to comprehensive case management and support services to participants across multiple programs including Car Ownership, Rapid Rehousing, Employment Services, and FAIM (Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota).
To learn more about our national network and its annual impact during Community Action Month, please visit our Facebook page. And, to learn more about Community Action Partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties, visit our website, which maintains a dedicated COVID-19 page linking to community-based resources, important updates from the Minnesota Department of Health, and information regarding Economic Impact Payments.