Indiana Community Action Network E-newsletter
April 2016 issue



Area IV’s Volunteer Rural Public Transit Program Celebrates 30 Years of Service


TRI-CAP Spearheads the Creation of a Resource Fair for Laid-Off Alcoa Employees

Annual Pace Event Features Nationally Recognized Guest Speaker & Self-Reliance Award Presentation


TRI-CAP Launches Fatherhood Coalition to Coach Low-Income Fathers

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Above: Drivers of the Volunteer Rural Public Transit Program view a safety demonstration on passenger-assistance techniques.

Area IV’s Volunteer Rural Public Transit Program Celebrates 30 Years of Service

This year, the Volunteer Public Transit Program of the Area IV Agency on Aging and Community Action Programs celebrates 30 years of service to its communities.

The program is dedicated to low-income residents of rural communities who often lack adequate transportation for errands and social activities. This isolation gets worse if the resident is disabled. Rural public transportation provides an increased quality of life for low-income passengers and enables increased participation in the communities where they live.

In 1986, to address a lack of public transportation in its rural areas, Area IV coordinated with community leaders and sought federal and state financial assistance from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), and the Volunteer Public Transit Program was born.

Today, the Volunteer Public Transit Program serves the towns of Boswell, Brookston, Clarks Hill, Flora, Hillsboro, Rossville and Waveland. INDOT still provides annual federal and state support, community donations and Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds to cover program expenses. To keep program costs low, local oversight, daily scheduling and driving are performed entirely with trained, properly licensed volunteers, a unique feature in our state. Each community has its own local vehicle supported by Area IV for insurance, maintenance, program marketing, volunteer training and technical assistance. Passengers give donations to cover vehicle fuel.

In order to provide safe and proper assistance for disabled passengers, the program’s transportation coordinator, Stan Minnick (pictured on right), offers the drivers training opportunities in passenger-assistance techniques. In addition, the Indiana Rural Transit Assistance Program partners with Area IV to provide free driver training programs that are relevant, informative and fun!

In 2015, Area IV’s Volunteer Public Transit Program provided 3,841 one-way passenger trips for 378 unduplicated passengers, traveling 19,902 miles. Service was provided by 115 dedicated, trained volunteer board members and drivers.

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TRI-CAP Spearheads the Creation of a Resource Fair for Laid-Off Alcoa Employees

In January 2016, Alcoa’s Warrick Operations in Newburgh, Ind., announced it would be reducing its workforce by 600 employees due to the closing of three aluminum smelters. On March 10, the reduction took place, leaving 297 employees out of a job and many additional employees opting to take early retirement packages. Upon hearing of the lay-off, local TRI-CAP leaders went to work, reaching out to Alcoa and neighboring social service providers — both within and outside the TRI-CAP service area — in an attempt to organize a resource fair that would minimize the impact on these laid-off employees as much as possible.

Alcoa agreed to host the Resource Fair, and TRI-CAP leaders gathered a core team of enthusiastic partners to help organize the event. United Way of Southwestern Indiana, Vectren, Community Action Program of Evansville (CAPE), Lincoln Hills Development, Audubon Area Community Service and many other social service providers joined the effort.

On March 31 and April 1, the Resource Fair was held for departing employees and their families. It was planned as a two-day event to provide Alcoa employees working 24/7 shifts every opportunity to attend.

The Resource Fair offered both hourly and salaried attendees a special opportunity to meet with local service providers who could provide FREE confidential assistance with a variety of needs to help fill the gaps in lost income. Even if an employee had found a new job, in many cases, — if the new job paid less than the previous job with Alcoa — assistance could be provided to those hard-working individuals.

Resources at the fair included:

  • Child care information

  • Energy and weatherization programs

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselors available

  • Programs providing assistance with:

    • Finances

    • Food

    • Mortgage and rent payments

    • Utility payments

    • Veterans assistance

    • Mental health assistance

    • Health insurance assistance


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Annual Pace Event Features Nationally Recognized Guest Speaker & Self-Reliance Award Presentation

A crowd gathered on Thursday, March 17, to enjoy the annual Stakeholders’ Event of PACE Community Action Agency. The evening featured a keynote address by Sister Simone Campbell, a nationally recognized religious leader, attorney and public policy expert, as well as the presentation of this year’s Self-Reliance Award.

Sister Simone discussed the importance of being aware of wealth discrepancies and how they impact our communities. Sister Simone is the Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, and she was one of the leaders who helped create the annual “Nuns on the Bus” tour. (See how the Indiana Institute for Working Families participated in the 2015 Nuns on the Bus tour in the November 2015 IN-CAA issue.)

Following Sister Simone’s speech, Sabrina Westfall (on left in the photo at right), a former Head Start student turned newspaper editor of the Greene County Daily World, was presented with this year’s Pace Self-Reliance Award.

Westfall attended the 1993-1994 Head Start program in Linton, Ind. After graduating high school in 2007, Westfall went on to receive an associate’s degree in journalism from Vincennes University in 2010.

According to Pace, the criteria for the Self-Reliance Award include obtaining and/or maintaining gainful employment (preferably with benefits), maintaining a household, improving via education or acquiring assets.

This annual Stakeholders’ Event was attended by members of the community, as well as Pace’s board, staff and Policy Council. It enables the public to see the positive work Community Action Agencies achieve.

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TRI-CAP Launches Fatherhood Coalition to Coach Low-Income Fathers

With the assistance of the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority’s (IHCDA's) Innovative Grant and local funding from the Dubois County Community Foundation, TRI-CAP launched its Fatherhood Coalition in the fall of 2015. There were 11 graduates in the fall, and today, there are 15 active participants in the spring sessions.   

Utilizing the curriculum of the National Fatherhood Initiative, the Coalition program teaches valuable information to low-income fathers or males in a fatherhood role.

Participants in the Coalition learn:
• How to avoid the barriers to fatherhood
• The value of playing with their children at various ages
• Family finance and investment advice
• Home energy information and saving techniques
• Safe and family-friendly technology
• Resume polishing and interview skills
• Communication skills focused on positive co-parenting, negotiation and conversation techniques

Upon graduation, participants received new iPads, ties from Siebert’s Clothing, gift cards, books and other items. In addition to these many benefits, participants gain a new network of awesome fathers and community leaders who have testified to the challenges and successes of being involved fathers. 

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