The Bradley-Cleveland Community Services Agency has some new programs in the offing, as well as changes to some entrenches programs, and some which may have to be suspended, however briefly.
“These are exciting times,” said Avery Johnson, vice mayor for the city of Cleveland, as well as the chair of the CSA governing board, which met at its regularly scheduled bi-monthly meeting Thursday.
Some may be difficult. For example, Johnson isn’t sure if the predicted rise in gas prices is going to adversely affect the CSA’s Meals on Wheels program.
And the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is totally out of funding until at least the end of March. The year before last, the LIHEA program received $1.2 million. This current year, only $726,000 was allotted to the CSA for this program.
“I am constantly having to tell people we’ve run out of money,” said Jackie Westfield, program coordinator. Currently, 30 households are on the waiting list. To qualify, clients must be at or below 150 percent of the poverty level. About $30,000 is currently needed. “But we don’t have any other resources.”
And, if no more state money comes in, the program may not get refunded until July 1 of this year when the new budget kicks in.
J. Adam Lowe, 4th District County Commissioner and CSA board member, suggested sending an official letter to area churches explaining the need for additional funds for these remaining LIHEAP projects. The board approved.
In addition, Tennessee, along with 25 other states, won’t receive any more weatherization money.
Others programs, however, are on the cutting-edge.
The Home Buyers Education Program is “growing rapidly,” said CSA executive director Demetrius Ramsey . Ramsey, board member Harry Johnson , and one additional trainer currently staff both the pre- and post-home-purchase programs. Faye Goldston, CSA’s home delivered meals coordinator, is scheduled to take a training class in the near future to be certified, as all trainers must be for this program, to make the fourth trainer. Foreclosure counseling is planned for the future as well.
But the most exciting and innovative program now just in its infancy is the CSA’s Second Chance program. According to an informational flier, for the upcoming meeting on March 6 reads: “If you are an ex-offender who would like help with drug and alcohol issues, finding a job, and maintaining independent living, we want to help.”
The Second Chance program is reaching out to help ex-felons overcome the root causes of their issues and become self-sufficient. The program hopes to attract people who are hoping for a better life, people who want to grow spiritually and emotionally, people who want to establish support systems, and people who want to grow in their faith, believing that, with faith, all things are possible.
“That’s what Second Chance is all about,” Avery Johnson said.
Currently, Ramsey and Harry Johnson are in the midst of drawing up concrete plans for the program, which might include a partnership with the Behavioral Research Institute, which offers a 16-week rehab program. Nine applications have already been received.
“A lot of people have been asking me about jobs,” Avery Johnson said. One of the hopes of this new program is that it will help get ex-offenders jobs. “This program would definitely fit into the needs we have in the Cleveland and Bradley County area ... It’s amazing how much need there is in this area ... But we want to make sure we do it right ... We need a program to help some of these young men who have made some mistakes in society.”
One such young man, Demetrus Tibbs, spoke to the board a little about his own experiences and struggles.
“These guys are trying to turn their lives around,” Avery Johnson said. “... But they are really struggling ... Together, however, we can make it happen.”
Those interested are invited to attend the meeting that will be held at the CSA offices at 155 6th St., S.E., located next to the Cleveland City Fire Hall No. 1, at 6 p.m.
The next CSA board meeting, which is always open to the public, will be held on April 26.
For more information, call the agency at 479-4111.
In other business:
- Sharon Westfield, senior services coordinator, announced The Senior Center will hold a Smorgasbord Dance and Benefit Saturday (Feb. 25). The cost is $15. Early dancing starts at 10 a.m., with announcements at 11 a.m., followed by a class in ballroom dancing by Jack and Ollie Hall at 11:30 a.m. Lunch is at noon. Princess Snyder will teach Zumba Gold dancing at 12:30 p.m. with Elizabeth and Hollis Clark and Ray and Kathy D. demoing a round dance at 1:15 p.m. The Square Dance will be taught by Ray and Kathy Donohoo at 1:30 p.m., with line dancing being taught by Judy Rodgers at 2:20 p.m.
- The Cleveland Bradley Housing Corp. recently held a ribbon cutting and dedication of the CSA’s duplex at 231 and 233 Dooley St. These are the last two units in the organization’s 2009 project, completing it six months ahead of schedule. Six units in total were built for a grant of $490,000, for a grand total of 46 units altogether.
- CSA’s Meals on Wheels programs recently added 30 clients. Home-delivered meals increased by 20 hot meal clients and 10 frozen meal clients between December 2011 and February 2012. The total number of meals delivered in December came to 2522, in January 2591, and in February so far 2291, including some “snow meals.” Snow meals are meals previously delivered and set aside by clients to have available on those rare occasions when Meals on Wheels can’t deliver due to weather, etc., so folks will still have a healthy meal on hand.
- The commodities program is “going great,” said Jackie Westfield, program coordinator for CSA. As of Thursday’s board meeting, more than 1128 households have been re-certified, with 768 households taking part at the most recent commodities distribution on Jan. 29. All commodities were given out at that time.
“We gave out everything that we could,” Westfield said.
The next commodities distribution date is set for March 29.
“There is still a great need right now with this economy,” Johnson said.
- CSA is beginning to prepare for its summer feeding program with training to begin in March.
- To date, the Weatherization Assistance Program has complete 12 homes, with between 8 and 10 more homes to be weatherized by June 30. This program will transition from being overseen by the Tennessee Department of Human Services to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.
- An emergency fund grant for $14,228 from the Emergency Food an Shelter Program has been received. CSA management will soon meet with the Ocoee Regional Builders Association to talk about its transitional housing plan.
- The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helped 1812 households, spending a total of $717,453.
n Dwight Donohoo, Cleveland emergency shelter manager, reported that the total number of folks who got a place to stay at the shelter between the first of the year and Thursday’s board meeting totaled 131. The total number of nights someone needed a room came to 1,931. The total amount of meals served came to 9, 026.
- The year’s audit, ending June 30, 2011, reported that the CSA wound up with a positive balance of $83,154, including both property depreciation totals, as well as monetary accounts. Melanie McMahan, fiscal officer, reported this ending balance was better than the previous year.