Indiana Community Action Network E-newsletter
November 2015 issue

 

NEWS

Nuns on the Bus stop in Indianapolis to gather Hoosier stories for pope's D.C. visit

EVENTS

Area IV hosts celebration as October is declared Energy Efficiency Awareness Month

NWICA & Head Start Celebrate 50 Year Anniversary with Tree Decorating

COMMUNITY IMPACT

Park Place Learning Center fostering improvement in children’s academic and social skills

Pace Community Action Program helps boys develop life skills

Submission information

 

Left to Right: Sister Eileen Reilly, SSND; Sister Joe Curcio, SLW; Andrew Bradley, Senior Policy Analyst, IIWF; Jessica Fraser, Program Manager, IIWF; Sister Simone Campbell, SSS; Sister Eucharia Madueke, SNDdeN; and Sister Jan Cebula, OSF.

'Nuns on the Bus' stop in Indianapolis to gather Hoosier stories for pope's D.C. visit

Visit includes policy discussion with IIWF staff


This September, NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, kicked off its annual "Nuns on the Bus" 2015 Bridge the Divides: Transform Politics tour. The theme of the tour was based on Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, and his call to build an economy of inclusion. The goal of this year’s tour was for the religious leaders to listen to members of communities they visited and bring back the stories they heard to Washington in time for the pope’s U.S. visit. The Sisters hoped what they learned along the way would not only inform the pope’s work but also their own as they lobby congress to create a more just economy.

This year’s tour took them across the Midwest, including a stop in Indianapolis, where the nuns visited Growing Places Indy, held a town hall meeting at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, and had a great policy discussion with our own Indiana Institute for Working Families, a program of Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA), over lunch.

The meeting between the Nuns on the Bus and the Institute came about thanks to connections the Institute made with Sister Simone Campbell during her visit to IN-CAA’s statewide conference in 2014. Institute employees were thrilled when the NETWORK representatives reached out and asked if they’d like to meet with the nuns.

Topics of discussion included the Benefits Cliff, eliminating SNAP asset limits, raising the minimum wage and promoting a more progressive tax structure.

Institute staff members also attended a Sept. 18 town hall, where they distributed fact sheets related to the issues the nuns were addressing, as well as educated attendees about the work the Institute was doing here in Indiana to promote positive policy change.

 

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Area IV hosts celebration as October is declared Energy Efficiency Awareness Month

Indiana Governor Mike Pence issued a proclamation declaring October as Energy Efficiency Awareness Month. To celebrate energy efficiency, Area IV Agency on Aging and Community Action Programs hosted a visit from Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, who oversees the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), the main funding source for Area IV’s Weatherization Program. These funds, along with an allocation from the U.S. Department of Energy, provide a variety of measures with the goal of creating a sustainable quality of life for families in the community of their choice.

Weatherization offers low-income households a permanent solution to reducing their energy bills. Typically, a weatherized home saves an average of 20-30 percent on annual home-heating costs, which translates to about $437 each year.

Area IV’s celebration visit took place at the weatherized home of Michael Overton, who now benefits from a 49-percent reduction in his natural gas costs.

Mike shared with those assembled that he was “overwhelmed by this attention” and that he was “very appreciative of the energy savings.”

His home had no insulation in the walls and little in the attic, so the dense pack insulation that was added has made a significant difference. The home also received foam insulation in the basement box sills and foundation walls, along with air-sealing measures. Cleaning and tuning the furnace, as well as sealing the duct work, improved the efficiency of the heating system.

The Weatherization Program’s savings add up over time, as substantial benefits for weatherization clients and their communities. Not only does it save the clients money, it makes their homes (and overall communities) energy-efficient, safe and comfortable.

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NWICA & Head Start Celebrate 50-year Anniversary with Tree Decorating

Those fortunate enough to hear the national Director of Head Start, Dr. Blanca Enriquez, speak at the National Community Action Conference in San Francisco will remember her likening Head Start to a younger sibling and describing Head Start and Community Action as family.

Northwest Indiana Community Action (NWICA) opened its doors in 1965 (then known as Lake County Economic Opportunity Council, Inc.), one year after the signing of the Economic Opportunity Act and the same year President Lyndon Johnson announced Project Head Start.

This year, we celebrated 50 years of opportunity for both NWICA and Project Head Start.

Although NWICA does not host its own Head Start program, we celebrated with our local Hammond Head Start family by participating in a Nov. 2 tree-decorating event. Our volunteers decorated one of 35 holiday trees at the Lake County South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. The Tree Decorating is an annual local tradition that draws hundreds of visitors and locals to the Welcome Center each season. Most organizations use handmade ornaments and objects that represent their group, business or nonprofit organization.

To prepare our tree, Hammond Head Start opened its Miller School doors for an intergenerational event. Teacher volunteers at the Miller School provided materials for picture frames and 1950s cutouts. Seniors, who are active in our Matter of Balance or Congregate Meal Sites, socialized with children and families of Project Head Start as they made the frame ornaments for the “50 Years of Opportunity” tree. Those seniors and children who were unable to attend were invited to send in pictures from 50 years ago for displaying.

The tree is beautiful and will remain on display until Jan. 4, 2016. If you're in northern Indiana, it's worth a stop to see it.

   

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Park Place Learning Center fostering improvement in children’s academic and social skills

Park Place Learning Center is a program of Area IV Agency on Aging and Community Action Programsthat serves families with children ages 18 months to 5 years old in a high-quality, licensed child care environment. The facility rates at a Level 4, the highest level, on Indiana’s Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System – known as “Paths to Quality.” Our child care center focuses on kindergarten readiness. Using the comprehensive research-based program, The Creative Curriculum, our educators plan and implement a developmentally appropriate, content-rich program.

The program has fostered great examples of success, such as a 4-year-old boy who began the program with outstanding academic skills but without social skills that would allow him to be successful in the more independent public school setting. In the beginning, he would frequently cry and cling to his mother at drop-off time. He was unable to transition from one activity to another without direct one-on-one supervision, and he refused redirection from teaching staff while becoming disruptive.

In the few months that he has been enrolled in the program, staff members have noticed a definite improvement in his social skills. Though he still sometimes struggles with separation from his mother, he cries less frequently and for shorter amounts of time. He is now able to transition with reminders and allows teachers to redirect him. Program staff members are excitedly optimistic about where his social skills will be by the fall of next year, when he transitions to kindergarten.

Another success story involves the younger of two brothers who attend our program. He is almost 2 years old and is still learning to talk and interact with the other children. In the beginning, he was very quiet and only cried if he wanted something. After becoming more comfortable with the teachers and other kids, he began using one or two-word statements. He giggles and smiles instead of crying. He has become more confident in asking for something that he may want, like being pushed higher on the swings. As he grows, we expect to see more great things from him.

While only being in session for a few months, all of the children have demonstrated improvement in cutting skills, letter and shape recognition, social skills and patterning across the board!

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Pace Community Action Program helps boys
develop life skills

Pace Community Action Agency is wrapping up its second season of the Boys and Beyond program. This 7-week program was specifically designed to bring together community volunteers, school officials and staff members to teach life skills to fourth- and fifth-grade boys through experiential learning. 

The boys learn many things, including how to tie a tie, change a tire, put together a computer, present a speech, save money and set a table. Boys that complete the program receive a $25 savings account and a field trip to the Terre Haute Children’s Museum.

Pace staff members have seen tremendous success and growth in the boys throughout the program. One parent even said that her son was now playing less video games and talking to her more, something she attributed directly to the Boys and Beyond program! 

Pace currently has 15 boys participating in the program, and is proud to be making a difference in the community by empowering tomorrow’s leaders.

   

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