Indiana Community Action Network E-newsletter
January 2018 issue



Institute Releases 2018 Policy Agenda: Right the Ship for Underwater Hoosiers

Pace's Health Insurance Navigator Program gets an expansion and a new supervisor

IN-CAA honors its dedicated leaders

CAPWI associate earns first ROMA Implementer certification in state


Benton Community Foundation's Cookie Jar program makes a sweet, 7-year impact in Benton County

SIEOC’s partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program brings Christmas cheer to children

Brightpoint’s weatherization program gives new life to house and homeowner

Area IV Agency’s weatherization department brings joy and solar success to local resident

NWICA partners with NIPSCO to get donations to breastfeeding mothers and elderly in need

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Institute Releases 2018 Policy Agenda:
Right the Ship for Underwater Hoosiers

Read the full agenda on the Institute's blog.

While the national recovery has finally resulted in a rising tide in Indiana, one in three Hoosiers is left anchored underwater economically, swamped by basic costs that are drowning out incremental gains. The Indiana Institute for Working Families’ 2018 policy agenda targets those left out of the recovery and lays out achievable steps to remove the anchors keeping families underwater, ensure there are enough life preservers for those who need them, and provide a propeller to steer Indiana toward economic security and broad prosperity in its third century.

Indiana’s "business-friendly" policy emphasis hasn’t yielded results for middle-class and working families, causing the state to stagnate or even slip behind neighbors on key measures. The past year saw little significant policy change directed to low- and middle-income families, and the data reflect the lack of focus on working families.

Compared to other states, Indiana’s poverty ranking worsened four spots last year alone, from 26th- to 22nd-highest. Racial- and gender-pay gaps increased, with the gender-wage gap jumping from 12th- to 6th-highest in 2016 alone. Indiana’s median household income remains stuck at 36th-highest in the nation. And, not surprising, given the state’s policy choices, Hoosiers now endure the lowest worker voice and the lowest hourly wages among all of our neighbors.

Fortunately, Indiana has a history of solving problems when our policymakers work as hard for Hoosiers as our families work for each other. Even during a ‘short session’ with no budget updates, the General Assembly can take these specific steps to begin to right the ship for working families:

  • Protect Hoosiers from payday lending with a rate cap and protection from dangerous new predatory products.
  • Require employers to provide reasonable pregnancy accommodations so women don’t have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck.
  • Reform TANF's eligibility guidelines and benefit levels so that their values cease to erode and are indexed to inflation moving forward.
  • Eliminate the lifetime ban on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for people who have served their time for drug felonies.
  • Improve On My Way Pre-K by removing service-need red tape so more kids can participate in pre-K to learn and thrive.
  • Support Indiana's workforce by removing non-academic barriers to adult student completion, boosting adult literacy, and adding a work-sharing program.

Sign up for updates and action alerts, and follow the Institute’s Inside the Statehouse blog series to keep up with the General Assembly’s progress in implementing these steps. Our team will be at the statehouse, bringing data and policy solutions to lawmakers in one-on-one meetings and public hearings. Please consider donating to help amplify our advocacy for working Hoosier families at the Statehouse throughout 2018.

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Pace's Health Insurance Navigator Program gets an expansion and a new supervisor

Pace is excited to announce the expansion of its Health Insurance Navigator Program, along with a new supervisor.

In partnership with Covering Kids & Families of Indiana, the Health Insurance Navigator Program utilizes certified navigators to help individuals secure health care coverage and avoid tax penalties. The program provides services to the entire state of Indiana, with offices in Daviess, Knox and Green counties. With the expansion, offices will soon be present in Gibson and Martin counties as well.

Abby Boyd was recently named as the program’s new navigator supervisor. Abby comes to Pace with more than 3.5 years in Community Action and plans to be a dedicated advocate for Pace customers.

Find your local navigator's phone number in the Location sections on Pace’s website.

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IN-CAA honors its dedicated leaders



IN-CAA honors Edgar Tipton before
his retirement

Cyndi Davis, president of the Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA), presents a token of appreciation to Edgar Tipton for his nearly 20 years of service with Community Action of Greater Indianapolis. The presentation was made upon Mr. Tipton’s retirement. Learn more about Ed's contributions in last month's IN-CAA e-newsletter.


IN-CAA honors Cyndi Davis for her service to the IN-CAA board

Tammy Cunningham (on left), the incoming president of the Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA), presents a token of appreciation to Cyndi Davis in recognition of her four years as the president of the IN–CAA board of directors.

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CAPWI associate earns first ROMA Implementer certification in state

Community Action Program, Inc. of Indiana (CAPWI) is proud to announce Kathy Walker, communications director and program director for CAPWI, is Indiana’s first nationally certified Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) Implementer. Kathy was awarded her ROMA Implementer (NCRI) credential in December 2017 after satisfactorily completing all four phases of the course, an opportunity made available through an IN-CAA Community Services Block Grant that was funded by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA).

The ROMA Implementer certification is a new offering through the Association of Nationally Certified ROMA Trainers (ANCRT) that trains employees on how to be a resource to their own agencies trying to implement the ROMA cycle. The ROMA cycle encompasses a five-step process that helps Community Action Agencies deliver results.

Once certified, ROMA Implementers are able to:

  • Provide input to their own agency related to the implementation of the full ROMA cycle

  • Utilize the ROMA network at state, regional and/or national levels

  • Participate in ongoing learning via annual in-service continuing education programs, ROMA cycle training opportunities and more

  • Renew their certification every three years

Becoming a ROMA Implementer involves completing an online application, with letters of support and a resume, taking a 6-module e-course, participating in an in-person ROMA training held by a NCRT/Master Trainer, creating a portfolio that demonstrates applied ROMA principles, and taking an online exam that includes the building of a logic model with different levels of need.

CAPWI is proud of Kathy’s achievement and hopes to take full advantage of her newly acquired skills and knowledge base. Congratulations, Kathy!

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Benton Community Foundation's Cookie Jar program makes a sweet, 7-year impact in Benton County

The Cookie Jar was established by the Benton Community Foundation in 2010 as a way for the women of Benton County to have a more measurable impact through their giving.

With more than 115 members this past year, The Cookie Jar has become a driving force in Benton County. With each member donating $100 (or more) each year, they have developed real grant-making power! During the annual soiree on the first Thursday of November, members vote on which organizations they will award half of their annual gifts, focusing on ones that serve local women and girls. The second half of their contributions is placed into a forever fund that continues the work of The Cookie Jar for generations to come!

To date, The Cookie Jar has awarded more than $40,000 in grants, and the forever fund has grown to more than $50,000. At this year’s soiree, they awarded $2,000 to the Community Food and Service Co-op in Benton County.

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SIEOC’s partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program brings Christmas cheer to children

Pictured below: SIEOC associates Dawn Ross (on left) and Rebecca Westerfield (on right) pose with a Marine at a December Cincinnati Bengals football game, one of the donation locations for the 2017 U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign.

Children in need enjoyed some Christmas cheer this year, after Southeastern Indiana Economic Opportunity Corporation (SIEOC) partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

This year, the partnership and community donations made it possible for SIEOC associates to provide four to five gifts each to 340 children ranging from newborn to 18 years old in Dearborn, Decatur, Franklin, Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties. They also provided one toy each to 322 children placed in foster care. 

The primary objective of Toys for Tots is to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas. In communities without a reserve unit, the campaign can be conducted by a Marine Corps League Detachment or a local group — like SIEOC — that has been authorized by the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. SIEOC’s campaign consisted of various activities and/or events designed to promote Toys for Tots and generate toys and monetary donations.

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Brightpoint’s weatherization program gives new life to house and homeowner

Michael Goldsmith (pictured on right) is a 60-year-old retired electrical contractor. During his working years, he traveled all over the country, repairing damage to electrical lines after natural disasters. He has been married and divorced three times.

“I lost everything,” he said. “I was living down at the mission for a while. I took my retirement – early retirement – and bought my house. I bought a vehicle and got back on my feet. That’s where I’m at now.”

Michael is a Fort Wayne native and the proud third owner of a 118-year-old house that had been vacant before he moved in and was previously part of the historical Swinney Homestead’s 200 acres.

“Nobody wanted the home, because it needed a lot of work,” he said. “This was originally a farm home, and, down the way, about a half a block down, there’s a little brick house – that used to be a trading post.”

Despite his pride in the home, it had seen better days when Michael moved in. The plumbing was in bad shape. The kitchen had a large wood-burning stove and two cabinets. Once hard times hit, he reached out for assistance.

First, he visited the Wayne Township Trustee’s office. They did what they could and then sent him to Brightpoint. At Brightpoint, he initially got assistance with his utilities through the Energy Assistance Program. Then he got a call from Brightpoint’s weatherization department.

“I thought they were going to come out and put plastic on the windows,” he said. “I was amazed at everything that was done.”

The bones of the house were in excellent condition, but, as is the case in most homes that are over 100 years old, the house needed insulation, a new furnace, a new water heater and more. Michael did some of the work himself, but Brightpoint was able to help him with much more than he had ever imagined. They insulated the walls and two attics, first having to remove the wooden siding to be able to tube the insulation inside.

“It’s dramatically changed my heating bill,” Michael explained. “Everything is more efficient. It’s twice as efficient as it used to be… I can’t say enough about it… Brightpoint is exceptional.”

Watch this IHCDA video to learn more about this home weatherization project.

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Area IV Agency’s weatherization department brings joy and solar success to local resident

This should be a much easier winter for Laurence Merrell (pictured on right) after he received assistance through the Weatherization Program at Area IV Agency on Aging and Community Action Programs.

Once Area IV Agency’s Energy Assistance department processed his application, the Weatherization inspectors/analysts conducted an energy audit on his residence, which was currently heated by electric baseboard heat. The inspection included a cleaning of the baseboard heaters, the replacement of the front door and an additional service that Laurence wasn’t expecting — the installation of solar panels on his roof.

Due to the location of Laurence’s home, the direction it faces and the location of nearby trees, Laurence was delighted to learn that his home qualified for solar panel energy installation. Upon approval, Green Alternative Inc. installed 20 solar panels on his roof, as well the necessary electrical wiring and components. Once the panels were installed, the system was completed and tested.

The panel installation is projected to reduce Laurence’s annual energy usage by 50.3 percent.

The solar portion of this project was made possible by a grant from the Solar Uniting Neighbors (SUN) program, a program of Prosperity Indiana administered on behalf of Duke Energy Indiana, Citizens Action Coalition, Save the Valley, Sierra Club, Valley Watch, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, the Duke Industrial Group, and Nucor Steel.

Following the weatherization and solar work, Laurence expressed how grateful he was, especially after going through some recent tough times.

“I have never been so happy in my whole life," he said. "I feel blessed, and I thank you so very much!”

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NWICA partners with NIPSCO to get donations to breastfeeding mothers and elderly in need

Northwest Indiana Community Action associates were delighted when representatives from Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) New Business contacted them in November, expressing an interest in donating gift bags for moms and babies.

Through a collaboration with Women, Infants and Children (WIC) management and peer counselors, NWICA associates identified 75 moms who could use the Mom and Baby Bags, which included baby play items and necessities like creams, lotions and diapers. Many low-wage-earning mothers and families struggle to afford disposable diapers, and they’re often not included in assistance programs. While cloth diapers are reusable, many laundromats will not allow them in their machines.
After Melissa Bohacek, NWICA’s communications director, mentioned an additional need for warm items for the elderly, homeless and other vulnerable individuals, NIPSCO representatives agreed to donate 20 NISPCO Warm Bags without hesitation.

The donations did not go unappreciated.

One recipient of the NIPSCO Warm Bag was an elderly woman who lives alone and is legally blind. She confided to her case manager that she often feels alone and would be alone for the holidays but was ecstatic to receive the kind donation. Another gentleman, who had just been released from the hospital and had to move into a relative’s home due to financial constraints, said, “I can really use this!”

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