Community Action Month Honors Agencies Across Commonwealth

May 16, 2023

As reported by Kathryn CarleyPublic News Service:

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Community action agencies in the Commonwealth are working with state lawmakers to ensure funding of their work to alleviate poverty continues.

Previous state funding helped the Worcester Community Action Council, serving Central and South-Central Massachusetts, create a Resiliency Center, offering financial coaching and income-tax assistance to low-income families.

Marybeth Campbell, executive director of the council, said her agency is not doing things for people, but with them.

“We can help affect change that isn’t just about stabilizing someone for a period of time who might be in crisis but really moving them onto that crisis to thriving continuum,” Campbell explained.

Campbell observed low-income families are struggling more now than during the pandemic, and flexible state funding as well as federal aid allows her agency to innovate and evolve to best serve the needs of people.

State funds helped the nonprofit Pace Incorporated in New Bedford acquire and renovate a building, where families receive help with health care, financial and child care services.

Pam Kuechler, executive director of Pace, said funds were also used to create a food pantry, offering greater choice and dignity to families in need.

“We wanted this to be a place where people felt welcome,” Kuechler emphasized. “We wanted them to feel like they had the decision on what they wanted to take, and we wanted them to walk away feeling like they got what they needed.”

Kuechler stressed food insecurity remains high due to inflation and supply chain issues. She added community action agencies are there to identify needs and fill in the gaps, contribute to workforce development and ensure all families have a fair shot at success.