Over the past month, I’ve been doing some traveling. Some for work, some for family. Seeing other parts of the United States are things that I’ve enjoyed in my life. From the small rural towns we pass through to the big cities, in each place we meet people, learn about their town, taste their food (which in my opinion is the best part of everything), and just be present in their world. I love it.
One stop this month was the Lexington Kentucky Community Action Council (https://commaction.org). If you’ve ever played the game 7 Degrees of Separation, that played right into this. One of my wife’s college friends is the current board chair for this community action agency. She connected with him, and he set up an opportunity for me to meet with their Executive Director Sharon Price and their Director of Sustainability Melissa Tibbs. One thing they do which is very exciting is their use of YouTube and podcasts. Their “Lex Talk More Action” podcast (what a great name BTW) and their “Unapologetically Woman” video series are great uses of online media to help educate and inform their service area. Taking suggestions from their community they craft conversations about topics that are important and share information in a very easy-to-digest format. They are doing some great things for Central Kentucky, and we’ll be borrowing some of the ideas we learned from them here at CVCAA in the future.
If you pause for a moment and look around, you’re going to see that the Community Action Network is vast, offering services to every part of the United States. Each agency is targeting the needs of their communities and working towards Helping People and Changing Lives. The National Community Action Partnership (https://communityactionpartnership.com/) is there to assist us in connecting with other networks and helps us do what we do. Here in Texas, the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies (https://tacaatx.org/) works with 30 agencies in their work to assist every county in Texas. If you’re reading this, you have some connection to the work we are doing, and chances are you know someone who might need some assistance. The Community Action Network reaches all corners of our country, over 1000 agencies strong...all working to help those in need. I’m proud to be a part of this network, and I hope you choose to support us and other agencies like us in our work.
Over the next few months, you’ll be hearing more from CVCAA about our work in our community. We’re about to start our next Community Needs Assessment (CNA), which we do every three years. This is an in-depth look at our counties, the people, and what the big needs are. From there we will create a plan to hit those identified needs. We completed our last CNA in 2021, as the COVID-19 Pandemic was in full swing. Things have changed some since 2021, but some things haven’t. Our team will assess what the top needs are and then we’ll get right to helping out. It’s exciting work.
I hope the rest of the summer finds you doing well, and staying out of the heat as much as possible. If you or anyone you know need some assistance, we’re just a phone call or an email away.
For Everyone Born,
It’s that time again! Time to celebrate our Above and Beyond staff member. This month, we’re recognizing Laura Delos Reyes. Laura hasn’t been with us for very long, but she is already making a difference and helping families of the Concho Valley.
Laura joined our team 2 months ago as a Community Programs Case Manager. She works to provide families with utility assistance and to connect them to other vital services in our community.
When she isn’t helping people and changing lives at work, Laura stays busy at home. She enjoys reading, watching television, gardening, and playing with her dogs.
Her favorite part of her job is helping people. “Everyone needs help at some point in time and it is important to show that CVCAA supports our neighbors.”
Since joining the team, Laura has learned more about all the ways CVCAA helps our community. She wishes everyone knew how dedicated CVCAA is to helping our neighbors and that it’s okay to ask for help.
We are so glad that Laura is on our team and look forward to seeing more of the impact she gets to make in our community.
Community Action Month
May means a lot of things to a lot of people! To students, May means they’re one step closer to summer vacation. To West Texans, May means 100-degree weather is right around the corner. To CVCAA, May means it’s Community Action Month, a chance to celebrate the expansive network of agencies that work to make their individual, unique communities a great place to live even for the most vulnerable neighbors.
No one highlights the importance of Community Action Month better than the National Community Action Partnership Executive Officer Denise Harlow, who said “Community Action Month is a time for us to come together and elevate Community Action as a voice and driving force for opportunity in America. It’s a time to celebrate the people and communities we serve, who inspire us with their strength and resilience… But above all else, perhaps, Community Action Month serves as an affirmation of the power of our network.”
Growing out of LBJ’s War on Poverty and the advocacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the Community Action Network was created to help fight the root issues of poverty and provide a hand-up to families struggling to make ends meet. Today, we are proud to say we are 1000 agencies strong covering 99% of counties in the U.S.
Locally, CVCAA is excited to take this opportunity to share our work and impact with the rest of the Concho Valley. On May 4th, we were happy to attend the San Angelo City Council meeting where Mayor Brenda Gunter proclaimed May 2023 Community Action Month. Below, you can find a link to the video of our Proclamation, If you don’t already, follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see us promote our community partners, share the real action happening in your neighborhoods, and learn more about the power of Community Action Agencies across the country.
One important aspect of Community Action Agencies is advocating for our low-income neighbors to make sure that their opinions and needs are being heard. This is something CVCAA has started to pay special attention to in the past 6 months. If you visit our Facebook page, you’ll see multiple instances where our leadership team has addressed San Angelo’s City Council on important topics such as the need for a homeless warming shelter during the winter months or the economic and social impact of non-profits on our city. Our Bridge Builders Advocacy event on Saturday, March 25th was the first step in bringing our neighbors’ needs directly to our officials’ ears.
We began our Saturday morning with coffee, donuts, and juice at First Presbyterian Church with our two facilitators Jason Sabo and Amanda Shelton with the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies. Once everyone was settled and the children were in the kid’s rooms, Jason proceeded to lead a discussion with the participants on what they wanted to see continue happening in San Angelo, what should start happening, and lastly, what needs to stop happening in this city. Each table with people from different backgrounds and experiences talked among themselves and shared their desires for San Angelo. Table representatives would then share with the larger focus group, summoning up nods of agreement from other neighbors who have seen the same thing.
After fully discussing numerous aspects of the city, we collected all of the papers and returned to our office to consolidate the data into an easy-to-read sheet. Later that evening, we sat down with City Council Member Larry Miller, SAISD School Board Member Ami Mizell-Flint, and County Commissioner Rick Bacon. Jason Sabo went point by point down our collected data with the trio, asking what can be done and what efforts are already in place. Having representatives from different parts of our local governments gave everyone the opportunity to see exactly where the progress kinks were occurring.
For our local officials that were not able to attend, the Bridge Builders’ results were sent out to be included in their weekly communication packets. Our Executive Director Mike Burnett has also sent each invited official an individual email with the Bridge Builders results document and an invitation to sit down and discuss how we can partner together for the good of our community. This Bridge Builders event was an amazing first step in closing the gaps between our elected representatives and the people they vow to serve.
Click below to see all of the data collected at our Bridge Builders Advocacy Event!