Union County Community Action
Jenny R. McGuirt - Executive Director:
I have been asked "what is Community Action"? In order to understand "what" Community Action is, we must first understand "why" Community Action was formed. In answering this question, I have borrowed terminology and phraseology from some of the public officials, researchers, and ideologists who found the formula to lessen the effects of poverty by helping people help themselves.
Community Action agencies were formed during the 1960's in response to efforts by public leaders to find ways to help people living in poverty become "self-respecting and self-supporting." Research confirmed it would be impossible to help people help themselves without their communities focusing its health, education, welfare, housing, and employment resources to support this objective. Public officials, civic leaders, and representatives of people needing help looked at their community and made decisions reflecting the needs of their local area. On January 6, 1966, public officials, civic leaders, and representatives of people needing help in Union County formed Union County Community Action, Inc. (UCCA). More than thirty years later, the UCCA Board of Directors still reflects this triparte representation. Broad community representation worked then, and it works now.
Head Start, vocational training and day care services became basic community action services in the 1960's. These services are still offered today but have continually changed to successfully meet the needs of a changing community. The comprehensive services of the Head Start Program have no equal. Children and families receive educational services and literacy training, dental and medical services for children who range in age from birth to five years, transportation on buses to Head Start Centers, classrooms on public school campuses, and dentist offices, speech therapy and services to meet the needs of children with disabilities, social and emotional developmental services, nutritional food for children, and nutritional training for parents. These are but a few of the services delivered each day in Head Start. Head Start addresses all of the areas children need to be successful in school and in life
Today, vocational training services are provided through Workforce Investment Act funds used to keep youth in school, tutorial services to help them succeed in school, part-time jobs during the school year, and work experience and remedial classes during summer months. Youth participate in leadership and good citizenship training, establishing the foundation for youth to become successful and productive adults. Adults receive tuition assistance to obtain skills training that is marketable in this region.
The CSBG Program provides case management services to help individuals seek gainful employment, assists in moving individuals and families from sub-standard to standardized housing, and provides resources to bring stability into the home environment so employment challenges can be met.
Years ago, local control of funds allowed community action agencies the flexibility necessary to design services that would impact the problems of poverty unique to each community. Even with the requirements, restrictions, and national standards imposed at different levels today, local control has remained a prominent feature of community action agencies. UCCA takes pride in being a "local organization" that remains close to the people we serve. Offices and work sites are located in areas accessible to those needing assistance. A well-trained and compassionate staff, who are knowledgeable in how to provide quality services and who have the desire to help, work daily to make a positive impact on the quality of life in this community. A volunteer Board of Directors provides leadership to keep resources focused on achieving the mission.
With years of success upon which to build, Union County Community Action looks forward to the future and meeting the challenges of improving the quality of life of the citizens in the communities we serve.