As local families have continued to struggle with high unemployment, expiring benefits and limited resources, Mid Michigan Community Action has helped 18,291 individuals and families with over $14.9 million in assistance during the last program year.
Over the past year, the agency has seen a dramatic increase of people needing help that have never accessed assistance before. The “newly poor” often find themselves in need of help after losing their job or having reduced hours, expiring unemployment or other hardships. Nearly 50% of scheduled appointments are with families who are accessing help for the first time.
Mid Michigan Community Action has over 20 services for low-income individuals and families including heat/utility assistance, Weatherization, Head Start, Early Head Start, homeless assistance, commodity supplemental and emergency food programs, and many others.
Many families have experienced a variety of harsh circumstances that have resulted in the inability to keep up with the most basic of needs such as heat, shelter and food. The agency provided over 7,300 households with commodity and/or emergency food assistance across the six-county service area; over 3,100 households received $1.6 million in heat/utility assistance.
In part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, the agency was able to make 666 homes more energy efficient saving each homeowner 50% or more on annual heating costs. The Weatherization program also put several million dollars into local economies for materials and contractors.
In addition, over 600 children, most of whom are at-risk or face tremendous adversity received quality early childhood programming. Early Head Start, in which an agency professional visits the child (ages 0-3 and pregnant women) and family in the child’s home once a week, focuses on strengthening families, healthy development and providing access to community resources. Head Start and preschool programs help prepare children (ages 3-5) for school success and also work with parents to become an integral part of their children’s academic achievement.
The agency continues to focus on providing education and guidance to customers in addition to assistance.
“Our goal is not just to help a family out of a crisis but to give them tools to become self-sufficient,” Jill Sutton, Mid Michigan Community Action Executive Director, said. “All of our programs has an educational component to it,” she said.
Outreach staff, preschool teachers, Early Head Start home visitors and all staff that work with customers provide information about other agency programs, community resources and anything else that can help the family move toward self-sufficiency.
“Moving forward we will continue to provide programs that give people a hand-up,” Sutton said.
Those in need of assistance can find contact information for their local Mid Michigan Community Action office at www.mmcaa.org. Eligibility and availability apply to all agency programs.
Mid Michigan Community Action Agency is a non-profit, human services agency serving Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Mecosta, Midland and Osceola Counties since 1966.