As we begin fiscal year 2018, I have never been more optimistic about the future of the Community Action Council of Howard County and the impact we are making on the lives of those who are struggling to make ends meet.
Our past successes and our optimism for a bright future is due to the support we receive from our friends and partners in this wonderful community. I want to thank the County Executive, the County Council, our state-elected officials, and the thousands of community partners, donors and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help advance the mission of CAC to new heights.
You have helped us give voice to the voiceless and provide quality programming in a holistic fashion, creating pathways for families to move from crisis to self-sufficiency. You have been a part of our major accomplishments this past year. These accomplishments include but are not limited to:
- Food Assistance: We purchased a new site, expanded our hours, created an appointment system, and distributed 650,000 pounds of food to more than 27,000 individuals
- Housing Assistance: 321 households received housing assistance
- Energy Assistance: 4,802 households received assistance with their utility bills
- Weatherization: 625 units received weatherization updates
- Early Childhood Education: 322 students were enrolled in full day/full year programming
As a county, we pride ourselves on a skilled workforce and an excellent educational system, well-prepared to advance further in the global knowledge economy. At the same time, as a private nonprofit that supports low-income families, we have had a front and center seat in watching and responding to the increasing number of families who are struggling to make ends meet. From July 2016 to June 2017, CAC supported more than 35,000 Howard County residents with their most basic needs, such as food and shelter. That’s a one-year picture; however we can also provide month-to-month comparisons that demonstrate the continuing growth in need. For example, at the Howard County Food Bank, CAC helped 1,301 clients in March 2017 and watched that number grow to 1,587 persons in April.
We have been nimble in our responsiveness to the increased need. We have also been challenged in looking at how we can deliver our services in a way that creates long-term and sustainable impact in helping families reach economic independence. How do we help empower families to take steps to achieve lasting economic stability?
About 15 months ago, we began our journey in changing the culture of our organization and the methodology by which we provide services. I would like to tell you about the journey of change that I believe will take us to an even-brighter tomorrow.
Our journey began with the belief that the we need to address the needs of children and their parents together, in a holistic fashion, in order to harness the family’s full potential in a way that puts each individual in the family on a path to permanent economic mobility. This is called the 2-Generation Approach. The 2-Generation concept means that no family member is left out: Parents get connected to skills and career training, children are in quality learning environments, and families are connected to health care and other services to address their basic needs.
The 2-Generation approach is also good for the community and for local business – thriving families mean motivated employees, active consumers and engaged citizens.
The underlying principles to 2-Generation approach include engaging and listening to the families (coaching culture), connecting services to enhance impact of service (service integration and collective impact), setting long-term goals that support becoming self-sufficient (fostering innovation), and measuring outcomes (data collection).
We have had tremendous success with families who have stayed the course through this process. One example includes a family who came to CAC with two Head Start age children, when mom wasn’t working and dad was in a part-time, temporary job. Today, mom is finishing her RN degree, dad is working full-time earning a livable wage, they have savings in the bank, the kids have graduated from Head Start and are thriving in school, and they just purchased their first home. It is not likely that they will need CAC services ever again.
Success is within reach. With your support and our commitment to quality service, we will continue to change lives in an impactful and sustainable fashion. Thank you for your support.
–Bita Dayhoff, President