Indiana Community Action Network E-newsletter
February 2016 issue



IN-CAA Receives Donation to Support Weatherization Work

CAPWI Executive Director Awarded Sagamore of the Wabash Award

Congressman Bucshon Visits Pace Community Action Agency

IN-CAA Honors Larry Kleeman as He Retires


Area IV Agency’s Housing Choice Voucher Program Helps Client and Grandchild Find Affordable Housing

Submission information


Above: Beth Pace of Vectren Energy Delivery presents donation check to Tammy Cunningham, vice president of the board of the directors of the Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA).

IN-CAA Receives Donation to Support
Weatherization Work

On Jan. 13, Beth Pace of Vectren Energy Delivery (Vectren) presented a check in the amount of $317,937 to Tammy Cunningham, vice president of the board of directors of the Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA). IN-CAA will distribute these funds to support weatherization work being completed by Community Action Agencies on Vectren-customer homes.

Vectren established the"Share the Warmth" program, a public charity, to assist income-eligible households with home weatherization measures to reduce their energy bills. Each year, Vectren matches all public donations to Share the Warmth, up to an annual total of $200,000. Share the Warmth funds are distributed annually to Indiana and Ohio low-income weatherization assistance programs.


CAPWI Executive Director Awarded
Sagamore of the Wabash Award

The Community Action Program, Inc. of Western Indiana (CAPWI) held its annual staff gathering on Friday, Jan. 22, where the distinguished Sagamore of the Wabash award was presented to its Executive Director Muff Rennick by Covington Mayor Brad Crain (pictured at right). Rennick was nominated by her daughter, Alison Fetsch, and State Representative Alan Morrison of District 42 (includes all of Vermillion County and portions of Clay, Fountain, Parke, Vigo and Warren counties).

The Sagamore of the Wabash is the highest honor the governor of Indiana bestows. It is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to their communities, state and/or the governor. Men and women who have received Sagamores have been astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians and ordinary citizens who have contributed greatly to our Hoosier heritage. The Sagamore of the Wabash award was created during the term of Governor Ralph Gates, and each governor since Gates has presented the awards in his own way. There is no record of the total number of awards presented, as each governor has kept his own roll and personally selected the recipients.

Myra E. “Muff” Rennick, a Fountain County resident for more than 55 years and a 1973 Covington High School graduate, began her career with CAPWI, a not-for-profit organization serving Benton, Fountain, Montgomery, Parke, Vermillion and Warren counties, in February 1980. After serving the community in many positions within the agency for more than 30 years, Rennick was named executive director of CAPWI in 2013. Rennick has served on many local boards and committees in association with her various roles at CAPWI, including her current position on the Indiana Community Action Association Board of Directors.

In addition to dedicating her career to the betterment of communities served by CAPWI, Rennick also serves in various community roles for various organizations, such as:

  • President of: Covington Community Foundation Board, Alpha Gamma Chapter of Tri Kappa, Alpha Gamma Associate Chapter of Tri Kappa and Coffeenians
  • Member of: Fountain County Mentoring Advisory Board, Covington Women’s Club
  • Past member of: Fountain County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Committee, Covington Optimist Club and the American Cancer Society
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Congressman Bucshon Visits Pace Community Action Agency

The Head Start class at Pace Community Action Agency received a special visit from Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D., on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

Bucshon's visit fostered discussion with staff members on various topics, including the Community Services Block Grant, the Weatherization Assistance Program and the Head Start program.

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IN-CAA Honors Larry Kleeman as He Retires

Larry Kleeman, executive director and CEO of the Lincoln Hills Development Corporation (LHDC), has retired after nearly 40 years of service. 

The Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA) board of directors is extraordinarily grateful to Larry for his leadership and remarkable service to LHDC.

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Cyndi Davis, president of IN-CAA, presented Larry with a commemorative vase (pictured at right) to express appreciation for his many contributions to IN-CAA and low-income Hoosiers, including 35 years as the executive director of the Southern Indiana Community Action Agency.

In recognition of Larry's service, a celebratory open house was held on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Larry's last day was Dec. 31, and Randy Dennison has assumed the role of executive director and CEO of LHDC.

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Area IV Agency’s Housing Choice Voucher Program Helps Client and Grandchild Find Affordable Housing

Right: Allen Grady is the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) Coordinator at Area IV.

It’s hard to imagine two people living on $733 a month, the amount of Social Security Disability Insurance, but many people do. Because rent and utility bills in the Area IV Agency on Aging and Community Action Program's service area approach or exceed their total monthly income, it is clear why there is a need for rental housing assistance to make housing affordable.

On a daily basis, staff members of Area IV Agency’s Housing Choice Voucher Program hear stories shared by people who contact the agency for assistance. It is hard to see how some survive.

Even with a voucher, finding housing for someone with this limited income is a challenge. However, when clients successfully find affordable housing, they’re able to use the remainder of their incomes for other necessities. One client - a family of two - was able to overcome illness and personal struggles to persevere in making their meager income work.

When speaking with Judy, the client, it’s clear she never thought her life would shift the way it did, requiring her to seek assistance. She worked with her husband on the family’s farm doing whatever was necessary to keep the farm going. In 2004, because of a virus, she developed kidney disease and eventually suffered total kidney failure. Her life soon revolved around dialysis and kidney issues, leading to other health problems, which limited her ability to do farm work.

At the same time, her daughter developed issues requiring Judy to care for her granddaughter and eventually obtain full custody. To make matters worse, her marriage ended in a separation, leaving Judy and her granddaughter on their own. The dissolution of the marriage and what Judy may be entitled are questions yet to be resolved. Her immediate problem was how to stretch $733 to cover rent and utilities exceeding $550 a month.

In Judy’s Housing Choice Voucher Program interview, she confided that “the money for a loaf of bread was hard to come by at the end of the month,” yet somehow she managed.

Last fall, Judy received a voucher and was able to locate an apartment in Area IV’s service area. The landlord has been a partner with Area IV Agency for three years and places program participants, even reducing rents when necessary to work within clients’ income, as he did for Judy. Judy and her granddaughter now have the stability of affordable housing with utilities and rent consuming 40 percent of her monthly adjusted income. She says it is still difficult but doable, and she is optimistic about their future.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides a subsidy for individuals and families to make rent affordable. A person receiving assistance pays between 30 and 40 percent of their income toward utilities and rent, and HUD subsidizes the remaining portion. Area IV Agency is a local subcontracting agency for the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, who acts as the public housing authority for the rural areas of the state.

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