Member-Spotlight-header4

Written by Kaylee Kellogg, Communications Intern

____________________________________________________________________________________

“Different programs at the CAA are focused on the long term solutions of fixing issues and helping members of the community reach their own goals by addressing problems of poverty systematically, rather than just putting a band-aid on it.”

____________________________________________________________________________________

The Community Action Agency (CAA) serves Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale counties and focuses mostly on the issues of poverty and promoting self-sufficiency for those in the community. Kate Lambert Lee, the Communications Manager of Community Action Agency, describes the work they do as “addressing the problems of poverty systematically, rather than just putting a band-aid on it.” Different programs at the CAA are focused on the long term solutions of fixing issues and helping members of the community reach their own goals. Through classes on financial empowerment, homeownership and on the issues of generational poverty in their counties, community members are able to reach milestones of graduating from school, buying their first home or reducing their debt.

____________________________________________________________________________________

“They are also able to find trends and programs that are working to positively affect the community much faster because of the large number of people they provide services to.”

____________________________________________________________________________________

Jackson-CAA2The CAA began as the Region II CAA in 1965. For more than 50 years and from locations in each county, the organization has been able to prove its ability to shift and change with the growing needs of the community. As the CAA serves these three counties, there are benefits and drawbacks of serving such a large group of people that Lambert Lee touches on. On the plus side, the CAA always has staff members from other locations and ideas from different counties on how to engage with the community. They are also able to find trends and programs that are working to positively affect the community much faster because of the large number of people they provide services to. The challenge in this is that Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale are three very different counties with a variety of unique issues to address. Lambert Lee states, though, that the CAA does it’s best to create programs for each county that continue to compliment one another.

____________________________________________________________________________________

“After using a service through the CAA, users are provided with a survey asking them about what other issues they feel need to be addressed their communities, and the CAA puts these answers into action.”

____________________________________________________________________________________

SONY DSC
The 2013 graduating class of the Getting Ahead Program. Photo c/o CAA

The CAA stays highly involved with those whom they provide services to, and use these people to find what other issues may need to be addressed in their communities. After using a service through the CAA, users are provided with a survey asking them about what other issues they feel need to be addressed their communities, and the CAA puts these answers into action. Lambert Lee mentions that the Getting Ahead program, a class that teaches community members about the effects of poverty in numerous aspects of their community and how to help tackle these issues, was only implemented a few years ago thanks to demand from the community. She also states that she feels the Getting Ahead program is also successful because many past participants that have overcome poverty due to the program come back to tell their own stories, which makes all the more impact on others.

____________________________________________________________________________________

“These classes have been taken by members of all three counties, and have had such an impact that Financial Stability Coalitions have sprouted up across their communities to help better address financial issues.”

____________________________________________________________________________________

credit-card-1080074_640Another successful endeavor the CAA has taken on is the success of its financial stability classes. These classes aim to help community members prioritize their budget, tackle debt in a financially responsible way and help them adjust to changes in their monthly payments. These classes have been taken by members of all three counties, and have had such an impact that Financial Stability Coalitions have sprouted up across their communities to help better address financial issues.

____________________________________________________________________________________

“…what makes the difference with CAA is that the people who work there truly care about the people they’re helping.”

____________________________________________________________________________________

Lambert Lee says that while the CAA does many great things for the tri-county area, she thinks what makes the difference with CAA is that the people who work there truly care about the people they’re helping. As she puts it, “It’s not a job where at 5 o’clock, your time is up. These people take calls and emails at just about any time, because they’re passionate about the work they’re doing. They care about the issues they’re addressing and the families they’re helping.”

Learn more about Community Action Agency (serving Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale counties) at caajlh.org, and follow them on Facebook @CommunityActionAgency and on Twitter @CAAJLH.

memberspotlight-small

Membership Spotlight are blogs highlighting the great work that our member organizations do within their communities. If you are a CEDAM member and would like to be featured, please contact Lisa Assenmacher at lisa@cedamichigan.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.