Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency Blog

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LIHEAP Assistance Makes Christmas Possible

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Due to circumstances beyond their control and of no fault of their own, Tammy Sprague and her husband suddenly found themselves as caretakers of five of their grandchildren with no warning or chance to prepare for the overwhelming challenge of parenthood once again. Having to hire an attorney sent them into a financial hole, and the Spragues struggle to make ends meet, despite their double income from two full-time jobs. Tammy needed help, and she knew where to turn.

A few years ago, Tammy and her husband lived in a trailer park, where someone told them about Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency and the LIHEAP assistance for energy bills. She has received LIHEAP and Weatherization services in the past. The Spragues moved into a four bedroom house in Wilson County four years ago. Now facing huge financial challenges, Tammy returned to MCCAA for help. She was recently awarded LIHEAP credit to her electric bill and Weatherization service for her home.

“I don’t know what I’d do without this program right now,” said Tammy. “This will let us have a little bit of a Christmas. Without it, we’d have no Christmas at all.” Tammy gladly assumed responsibility for her grandchildren because it meant they would not have to go into foster care. Her husband’s brother and her daughter step in at times as an additional support for childcare. Tammy tries to work overtime when she can because the children are always needing clothes, school supplies, money for field trips, or other things typical of school aged children. Services from MCCAA have made a huge difference for Tammy’s family and have provided a “hand-up” to get through this tough time.

“This is a wonderful program, and I’m very grateful,” she added.

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Joe Ann’s Story – Living a Little Better Due to LIHEAP

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Joe Ann has received LIHEAP service through Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency for five years. Her escalating electric bills made her aware of the importance of conserving energy where possible and has helped her “live a little better.” She no longer has to worry about how to pay her electric bill as she pinches her pennies. LIHEAP helps her maintain independent living, which she truly appreciates.

Joe Ann first heard about LIHEAP from the former secretary at the low-income housing development where she lives, Angie Young. According to Joe Ann, Angie made sure everyone who needed help knew about MCCAA services and encouraged them to apply. Angie worked closely with MCCAA to coordinate the LIHEAP outreach events at the housing development and provided applications to residents who needed service.

width=Angie Young

MCCAA took notice of Angie Young’s hard work to promote the agency and decided to hire her! Angie now works in accounting with MCCAA, a position she has held for almost a year. MCCAA is very proud to have Angie and appreciates her as a vital part of a hardworking team of professionals who truly love serving others.

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Katharine’s Story – A LIHEAP Recipient and Volunteer

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Katharine is the social butterfly of the low-income housing development where she lives. In fact, her social skills have made her the activities coordinator. Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency has helped her with LIHEAP and commodities since 2013.

Katherine is more than just a recipient of MCCAA services. She volunteers to help with commodities distribution and to sign-in customers at the LIHEAP outreach event. By volunteering, Katharine gets to socialize and can catch up on who is in the hospital, who is sick, and whatever others are doing. MCCAA assistance has helped her have extra money for groceries, gas for her car, and other things she may need. She continually promotes MCCAA to those who need help and encourages them to apply. MCCAA considers her a fabulous PR person, too!

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Carolyn’s Story – LIHEAP a Lifesaver

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Carolyn is a three year resident of a low-income housing development and has received LIHEAP through Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency all three years. She considers LIHEAP a lifesaver! On her income, she could pay her bills but not much else. The credit LIHEAP provides on her electric bill has enabled her, as a single woman, to stretch her pennies much further. Without LIHEAP, she has only about $100 a month left for groceries and other non-recurring bills.

MCCAA has helped Carolyn with food, hygiene products, and prescriptions. She is a firm believer in MCCAA services and promotes them to all of her friends.

“Those who don’t apply for services don’t know what they are missing,” Carolyn says. “All it takes is turning in the paperwork. I can’t understand why people who need help making ends meet won’t apply.”

For senior citizens with no hope of increasing income, LIHEAP and other MCCAA services are a lifesaver, in Carolyn’s opinion. It is well worth the time and effort to complete the paperwork to get the extra help needed. LIHEAP and other MCCAA services have sustained her in her retirement years.

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Floyd’s Story – LIHEAP Essential to this Veteran

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Floyd has been receiving LIHEAP assistance from Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency for nine years. He doesn’t receive much in Social Security and lives in a low-income housing development. While he would much rather be working, he is now disabled and dependent upon his fixed government income.

Floyd is a veteran and has also received help from the VA. He lives alone since his wife passed away four years ago. LIHEAP has helped him maintain an independent living situation as he is steadily losing mobility due to back problems.

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Sherolyn's Story - LIHEAP a Tremendous Blessing

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Sherolyn moved to a low-income housing development four years ago after her husband died. With impending health concerns, she wanted to be closer to her daughter. She has received LIHEAP service for the past two years and has found it to be a tremendous blessing.

With increasing medical bills, LIHEAP has helped her fill financial gaps she did not previously know how to fill. LIHEAP has helped relieve her anxiety of facing her medical issues and their related costs alone.

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Shirley's Story - LIHEAP Relief

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Shirley is a ten year resident of a low-income housing development, and she has received LIHEAP through Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency each year. She moved to Tennessee from Michigan to be closer to family. She appreciates LIHEAP assistance since she is a sole provider.

“It is a relief to know I’ll have heat in the winter and a nice place to live,” says Shirley. “When you give up your home, you want a nice place to live when you are older and not have to worry about paying the utility bills.”

Shirley added that LIHEAP has taken a huge worry off her mind since she now has multiple medical bills due to ongoing health issues. She is very grateful for such assistance and plans to apply for it as long as she can. It has helped her maintain independent living as a senior citizen, unable to drive any longer.

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Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency’s Daniels Selected as TIAA Difference Maker

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Mid-Cumberland
 
Community Action
 
Agency’s Daniels
 
Selected as TIAA
 
Difference Maker
 
 
 
TIAA has selected Case Manager Paula Daniels of Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency as recipient of a Difference Maker 100 award. The award is designed to honor extraordinary people who have devoted their lives to improving the world and making a recognizable difference in their communities and the nonprofit organizations they serve. TIAA received over 4,000 applications for the awards and narrowed their selection to 100 honorees. Each nonprofit represented by the honorees will receive $10,000 from TIAA.
 
Daniels was selected based upon the social impact of her work in helping move people from poverty to financial stability. As a case manager, Daniels considers the individual circumstances facing the customers she serves and helps them design a plan to improve their lives as a whole. From creating a budget to paying rent or utility bills to helping an individual improve job skills, Daniels utilizes a variety of MCCAA programs and community partners to help her customers access the help they need to move from lack to self-sustainability.
 
MCCAA is very proud of Daniels and congratulates her on her many accomplishments. She is truly an asset to the team as she helps MCCAA fulfill its mission of empowering people and communities toward economic independence. For more information on the awards and TIAA, please visit their website at https://www.tiaadifferencemaker100.org.
 
Story by Ronda Martin, MCCAA Community Liaison
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A City that Cares

If you ask most senior citizens, the last thing they want is to be a burden on their families. Independence gives them dignity, but seniors on a fixed budget often have difficulty maintaining independence with an increasing cost of living. The City of Goodlettsville, TN, recently created three new programs and hosted a resource fair to inform seniors about other community resources that can help them maintain independence.

width=Angi Bain, City of Goodlettsville Municipal Court Clerk

If a senior has little margin in meeting monthly bills, property taxes are a huge annual financial challenge. The City of Goodlettsville incorporated two programs to assist seniors – the Tax Freeze Program and the Tax Relief Program. The Tax Freeze Program freezes property taxes at the current rate, and the Tax Relief Program provides a tax credit to seniors. Both programs are based upon income, and seniors must apply and qualify each year.

In addition to tax assistance, the City of Goodlettsville established a new program called, “Operation Good Morning Sunshine,” which is a reassurance program offered to seniors living alone. Someone from the city will call isolated seniors periodically to check on them and to let them know someone cares about them. The program also assures city employees the seniors are okay. When seniors living along don’t show up as routinely expected to pay a utility bill, the employees become concerned.

In order to increase senior awareness of other community resources available to them, the City of Goodlettsville hosted a senior resource fair September 13-14. Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency participated in the event. MCCAA provides a variety of assistance programs to seniors, such as rent or mortgage assistance, an additional property tax relief program, food distribution, food and hygiene pantry, energy assistance, comprehensive case management, and referrals to other community partners.

width=Brianna Ortiz and Ronda Martin, MCCAA

Jubilee Hills provided information on their new senior living facility, opening this fall. The center will offer fun activities, enriching classes, assisted living with health care professionals, and Montessori-based memory care. Jubilee hills provides a full range of exceptional senior living options, a full spectrum of personal and medical care services, and fresh, nutritious, chef-prepared meals in a very comfortable, harmonious setting.

Also in attendance at the senior resource fair were Adam D. York, Attorney at Law, and Stephanie Upton of Upton Solutions. York provided a 50% discount to seniors on legal services, such as estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, and advance care directives. Upton is a licensed health insurance provider who can assist seniors in understanding their options for Medicare and help them select the right plan for their specific needs.

As Mother Teresa once quoted, “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody – I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” Senior citizens of Goodlettsville, TN, have a city that truly cares for their well-being. When a community comes together to care for its own, the community as a whole thrives.

width=Stephanie Upton, Upton Solutions

width=Adam York, Attorney at Law

width=Kelly Stagg and Jill Wagoner, Jubilee Hills

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Fighting Like a Champion

In the words of former American boxer and boxing producer, Floyd Mayweather, “A true champion will fight through anything.” With that statement in view, Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency found a true champion in Shameir Smith, single mom of two small children, ages four and two. Her fight from homelessness to self-sustainability wasn’t an easy one, but it is certainly an inspiring one.

width=Shameir Smith and Case Manager Paula Daniels

Shameir suffered complications during her second pregnancy that left her unable to work, and she lost her job. Her daughter was born in 2016 with health issues that are still being addressed. Due to her job loss, she was unable to afford her apartment and moved in temporarily with a friend. With nowhere else to go when the friend’s home became too crowded, she moved into a hotel and found new employment.

The only asset Shameir owned was her car, which needed repair. Unable to continue paying hotel costs, she found herself living in her car with her children. They were homeless and without income for proper housing, and she had no strong support system to help.

While driving through Murfreesboro, TN, in late March, 2018, she saw a Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency sign on a business door and stopped to see if they could help with car repair. After completing an application, she was referred to the Comprehensive Family Case Management Program, where she met MCCAA Case Manager, Paula Daniels. Upon reviewing her case, Paula saw they could help Shameir with car repair because she was employed. Immediately after taking her car to the automotive shop, however, Shameir lost her job, and she no longer qualified for car repair assistance.

Fortunately, Shameir Smith is a fighter, and she was determined not to quit. She knew life would get better if she would just keep pushing, and she committed to meeting with Paula every two weeks to determine the steps she needed to take to overcome homelessness. Her dad was able to intervene and take care of the car repair bill and to help pay hotel bills during the three months it took to get her car back. Once Shameir had transportation again, she sought part-time employment so she could continue to physically care for her children. Paula referred her to several employment sources, and she landed a part-time job as a receptionist.

After finding a job, Paula referred Shameir to Amelia’s closet, who provided Shameir with a new business wardrobe and a gift certificate for her hair and nails. In addition, MCCAA provided an electricity deposit to help Shameir and her family move into a three-bedroom apartment, and they utilized LIHEAP to cover initial electric bills. Paula also provided food, hygiene items, and cleaning supplies from the MCCAA food and hygiene pantry.

Shameir believes she would probably still be homeless without assistance from MCCAA. She enjoys the encouragement Paula gives her at their bi-weekly appointments, where they have created a budget to move from one step to the next to get her on her feet again. Her son will soon start Pre-K, and she has applied to Head Start for early childcare for her daughter. Things are definitely changing for the better for Shameir and her family.

“I just saw motivation and resilience in her, and I knew she would make it. Shameir is very consistent; she pays her bills, keeps her appointments, and is both dependable and trustworthy,” explained Paula. Shameir’s poverty matrix has risen from 0% to 80% under Paula’s guidance, and she will soon be dismissed from the CFCM Program as a success.

“Keep pushing; don’t give up. God wakes you up every day to make your situation better. I’ve done a lot of praying! Keep moving forward,” Shameir advises any single mom who finds herself homeless. Six months from now, she sees herself doing better, rising higher, and not going backwards. She hopes to eventually go to school to become a dental assistant or even a dentist, and her determination to fight has made her a true champion already!

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MCCAA News Alert - July 1, 2018

Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency is accepting applications for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in Cheatham, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, and Wilson Counties in Middle Tennessee. Qualified applicants may be eligible to receive a onetime payment on their home energy bill. The new program year begins July 1, 2018.


Interested applicants should contact the MCCAA County Outreach Office in which they live for more information or to have an application mailed. Applicants must return applications via mail or in person to their local outreach office.

Cheatham County:

384 S. Main St.

Ashland City, TN 37015

(615) 792-3632

Roberston County:

505 Hill St.

Springfield, TN 37172

(615) 384-1086

Rutherford County:

1406 A W. College St.

Murfreesboro, TN 37130

(615) 893-8938

Sumner County:

600 Small St., Suite 122

Gallatin, TN 37066

(615) 452-7570

Trousdale County:

106 Project Drive

Hartsville, TN 37074

(615) 374-3489 

Williamson County:

129 W. Fowlkes St., Suite 136

Franklin, TN 37064

(615) 790-5789 

 Wilson County:

104 Webster Lane

Lebanon, TN 37087

(615) 444-4714

Required documentation includes proof of all household monthly income for eight weeks from time of application, a 12 month history of your home energy bill beginning with the most recent bill, Social Security cards for all household members, and a photo ID for the Head of Household. Failure to provide required documentation can result in the delay or denial of services. More information on required documentation may be obtained at www.midcumberland.org.

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.

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The Richness of Gratitude

“None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” – Fred DeWitt Van Amburgh.

width=Heidi Combs, Dorothy Ryan, and Case Manager Paula Daniels

If Mr. Van Amburgh’s reasoning that the poorest of us is the person that is not thankful or grateful for anything they have, then Mrs. Dorothy Ryan is certainly among the richest of us, despite the implications of her meager income. Indeed, Mrs. Ryan is a joyful soul that oozes of gratitude for her recent assistance and is eager to tell you how happy she is about the changes she has incurred. Hers is a testimony of thankfulness and a face that brightens even the gloomiest of rooms with sincere appreciation.

Dorothy entered the Elderly and Disabled Services (EDS) Program of Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency’s Case Management Plan in December, 2017. The program is designed to help sustain elderly and disabled individuals living on a fixed income. Dorothy needed help paying a high utility bill, but in an interview with Case Manager Paula Daniels, Paula realized she could help Dorothy with much more through the EDS Program and community resource referrals.

MCCAA’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) awarded Dorothy $450 to pay toward electric bills in January, 2018. Paula asked Dorothy about her property tax statement and learned that Dorothy’s bill of $700 would leave her extremely short in meeting monthly expenses with her meager fixed income. Through an EDS grant, Paula helped Dorothy with $500 toward her tax bill and also provided her with food and hygiene products from MCCAA’s food pantry. With Paula’s assistance, Dorothy was also able to apply for a tax freeze on her property so her taxes would not increase during her lifetime. Dorothy’s property, however, needed more than just tax relief. Paula was able to go yet another step further to assist Dorothy.

Dorothy and her husband built their home in 1962 and raised a family there. Since her husband’s death four years ago, Dorothy had neglected home maintenance due to her limited income and inability to fix things herself. Paula referred Dorothy to Westminster Home Connection (WHC) for repair assistance. WHC conducted an assessment, and Paula performed a home visit. Upon WHC approval, repairmen went to work on Dorothy’s house. They replaced the entire bathroom floor, installed a new screen door on the front door that had been bent from a tornado, re-wired electrical outlets and grounded new plugs, fixed a leak in the kitchen sink and replaced the faucet, caulked windows, installed new smoke detectors in the bedrooms, replaced a smoke detector in the hallway, replaced the crawl space door, and completely cleaned underneath the house.

“Those were the most mannerly, courteous men I have ever seen,” exclaimed Dorothy regarding the repairmen from WHC. “There is no way I could have had anything done without their help. On a fixed income, you have no money left to do repairs,” Dorothy explained. She added, “It is hard to find trustworthy people to help you and to do good work without ripping you off. When you are by yourself, you get a lot of squirrels who want to help you.”

Dorothy no longer drives due to recent and impending eye surgeries. She relies heavily upon her granddaughter, Heidi Combs, to assist her with transportation. “It has been a huge blessing to have trustworthy help for my grandmother,” said Heidi. Heidi, mother of seven, helps Dorothy all she can while taking care of her own household.

Paula also assisted Dorothy with another $300 toward light bills in May and continues to provide her with food and hygiene items through the food pantry. After six months in the EDS program, Paula successfully moved Dorothy out of Case Management since assistance from MCCAA and WHC had greatly relieved her of financial pressures and made her life more manageable. Dorothy Ryan is one happy lady due to a community that was willing to look at her as an individual, care about her needs, and provide her with the necessary assistance to overcome barriers that prevented her from independence as an elderly, disabled person. Her gratitude is contagious, and everyone would be much happier if infected.  

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Job Posting: Development Coordinator

Development Coordinator   

Pay Range $45,000-55,000 DOE   

 Join one of the largest non-profits in the Middle Tennessee area assisting low-income individuals and families, including the elderly, those with disabilities, children, and unemployed individuals with the goal of empowering them and our communities toward economic independence. In 2017 we served 30,000 individuals with food boxes, fuel/utility payments, rent/mortgage payments, employment assistance, medical care, childhood development and education, and parental coaching. We stand in the gap between low-income situations and homelessness, and assist parents with child care so they can achieve economic independence. MCCAA is the umbrella to programs such as Head Start, CSBG, LIHEAP, WAP, and TEFAP.

We are seeking a visionary and innovative strategic leader to develop and facilitate fundraising and grant writing strategies in order to exponentially expand our impact in the Mid-Cumberland area. If you are interested in a rare opportunity to join an established non-profit as we launch our largest expansion yet, this job is for you.

The ideal candidate will have at least 3 years management-level fundraising and grant writing experience securing major gifts, grants, sponsorships and annual contributions. They will also hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Affairs, Business, Marketing, Communications, or a related field. Must be a collaborator, influencer, and highly effective communicator who plays a critical role in engaging key stakeholders.

This position is full time and exempt. MCCAA offers one of the most competitive benefits packages around. We pay 100% of your health, dental, and life insurance and offer vision as well. Most impressively MCCAA contributes a 5% match based on an eligible employee’s salary instead of the normal percent they contribute. 

 

Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency is an equal opportunity employer. We will not discriminate and will take affirmative action measures to ensure against discrimination in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the bases of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

This employer participates in E-Verify.

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Partnership with Medical Missions at Home

The MCCAA Rutherford County office partnered with St. Thomas Health’s Medical Missions at Home on April 28 at Holloway High School in Murfreesboro. Created as a project of the Ascension Health Leadership Formation Program, these day long community health events provide needed primary and specialty care and services including behavioral medicine, dentistry (pediatric and adult), foot and wound care, mammograms, prescriptions at no cost made possible by Dispensary of Hope, and vision services. Over the last several years, thousands of free medical services and procedures have been provided to Middle Tennesseans through Medical Missions at Home.

Rutherford County Mobile Medicine

Rutherford County Mobile Medicine

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The Value of Learning to Be a Good Friend

Jenny Hughes has been called a “Miracle Worker” by her peers who have observed her as she teaches three and four year olds at the Robertson County Head Start Center in Springfield, TN. In Jenny’s classroom, students learn social and emotional development skills that will take them far throughout life. “Jenny has taken some of the most challenging children in our agency and built such a special relationship with them that it turned their behavior around to where they were fully functioning in the classroom with very little support, “explained Head Start Staff Development Coordinator, Katie Vaughn.

 Jenny Hughes Jenny Hughes

Jenny focuses upon creating a true classroom community, where children feel safe, learn to respect and love each other, and hold each other accountable. They begin the day by greeting each other with, “Good Morning, Classroom Family!” According to Jenny, if they cannot be a friend, they will never succeed in life. Some adapt the concept quickly, while others take time. She teaches them how to be a friend to each other and even acts out what it means to be a good friend. When a child’s feelings are hurt, she puts a Band-Aid on his/her heart. She leads them to talk about how they will not break a friend’s heart and even has “Feel Good Cream” to make worries go away.

Jenny uses a “Buddy Bench” to teach children how to solve problems and resolve conflict. If two children argue over the same toy, she sends them there to find a solution. They discuss the issue and resolve their conflict on their own. This process teaches children conflict resolution and independence and helps maintain a healthy classroom environment.

Children learn responsibility in Jenny’s classroom, too. Each child has a job and is expected to do it well. Jenny employs morning greeters, someone to take attendance, door holders, cheerleaders who encourage students when someone is down, messengers, and even a star rule helper to recite the classroom rules. Everyone works to make the classroom operate efficiently. As a result, the classroom runs itself as children learn to function in routine.

If a child does not cooperate in Jenny’s classroom, he/she goes to the “Cozy Corner,” where there are activities to do while he/she sits. Jenny often sits with a child in “Cozy Corner” to try to calm the child or get to the bottom of the behavioral issue. She might give the child a back-rub or practice the “Hot Water, Cold Water” technique to calm the child. In this technique, the child makes a fist with each hand, naming one “Hot Water” and the other “Cold Water.” They drain the water by opening their fists to release anger.

As expected, Jenny has had a multitude of success stories with children throughout her career. She recalled one little boy who laid on the ground out of frustration. The children stopped, addressed him by name, and said, “We love you. We know you’ve got this. You can do it!” The little boy clapped as he got back up, and his attitude completely changed. The parent later told Jenny, “My son says his teachers love him. He knows he is loved in your classroom!” She recalled another child who was screaming, hitting, and punching. She went to him and said, “Give me your anger.” The child cried as he gently wiped her hand.

Jenny knows she has made a real difference in a child’s life when she sees one who is making good choices, solving problems, gaining independence, and using the strategies she has taught. The toughest part of her job occurs when she cannot determine the source of misbehavior because the child will not respond to her or her classroom appropriately. She advises brand new teachers to have it together the first day and be ready to present what you want them to know. Be consistent, and model good behavior.

Although Jenny has worked at the Robertson County Head Start Center for 21 years, she believes a successful teacher should always be learning and trying new things. She has a Bachelor of Science in Early Education with a minor in Social Work from Tennessee Tech University. She relies heavily upon Conscious Discipline, an educational program implemented by Head Start, and uses various resources for new ideas and teaching techniques.

Perhaps, the most amazing and surprising fact about Jenny Hughes is that she has no children of her own. She developed breast cancer at an early age, and chemo sent her into menopause. While she has never given birth, she has given a better life to more than 500 children by teaching them vital social and emotional skills. As a result, she was named, “Godmother,” to one former student and still keeps in touch with many more. She enjoys watching her students grow up to be successful, independent adults who have learned the value of being a friend.

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Community Partnership Feeds the Hungry

Food for the Hungry

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat…”

These are the words of Jesus found in Matthew 25:35a as He explained to His disciples the difference between sheep and goats. His sheep follow Him and do the works He does, which involves feeding those who are hungry. On April 20, a group of sheep came together to feed the hungry of Robertson County with a food distribution hosted by Purpose Life Church in Springfield, TN.

Pastors Kris and Arlin SmithPastors Kris and Arlin Smith

The event included a partnership of various groups who came together to care for people. Purpose Life Church Pastors, Arlin and Kris Smith, joined with Dr. Paul Graden, Executive Director of Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency and member of Purpose Life Church, school personnel and students, a local employer, and others who care about the community. Approximately 280 families received food boxes that would feed a family of four for three to four days.

Purpose Life Church hosts food distribution days as money is provided. The church received a government grant through Second Harvest Food Bank for this food distribution day, and funding has been provided through United Healthcare in the past. Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency receives money from the Community Services Block Grant, Low-Income Energy and Housing Assistance Program, Weatherization Assistance Program, and Head Start. Their goal is to empower people and communities toward economic independence. By partnering together, the two organizations were able to identify and assist people who needed food, rent/mortgage assistance, help with energy bills, healthier and more energy efficient homes, affordable child care, and assistance in moving from poverty to self-sufficiency. In effect, the two organizations were able to help the entire individual or family unit – physically, financially, mentally, socially, and spiritually.

MCCAA Executive Director Dr. Paul GradenMCCAA Executive Director Dr. Paul Graden

Pastor Arlin Smith is Chaplain of the Tennessee Firearms Association, Chaplain of the Robertson County Republican Party, and a school bus driver for Robertson County Schools. His influence in the community has given him the reputation as “Pastor to Robertson County.” People look to him for leadership, wisdom, and spiritual guidance because they know and trust him. His wife, Kris, organizes the food distributions to make sure things flow perfectly. In addition, she leads children’s church and manages the church office.

According to Pastor Kris, the objective in hosting the food distributions is to help feed people in the community. “Many don’t qualify for government programs, but life happens. Sometimes, people who are working need help, too, or they know others who need help and are unable to come. We serve anyone, regardless of income,” explained Pastor Kris. They have found that the food distribution days help build community in two ways – with those who need help and with those who volunteer. Both groups are able to bond through the efforts of a common cause. In fact, several people who volunteered needed food, and Pastor Kris had a group dedicated to preparing food boxes just for them.

Other groups joined to partner for the event, as well. Lisa Cobb, Parent School Homeless and Foster Care Liaison, helped man a table and promoted the event with the families she serves. Electrolux brought flyers advertising job openings within the company. The East Robertson County High FBLA, led by teacher Beverly West, also helped man tables, fill boxes, and clean up after the event.

Ultimately, the Father blesses those who are recognized as sheep, according to Jesus. For sure, a community was blessed through the partnership of organizations who cared enough to truly feed the hungry. Apparently, there are a lot of sheep in Robertson County.

Lisa CobbLisa Cobb

June Dement and Jennifer Velazquez from Head StartJune Dement and Jennifer Velazquez from Head Start

MCCAA Board Member Chris OrndorffMCCAA Board Member Chris Orndorff

East Robertson High FBLAEast Robertson High FBLA

MCCAA EmployeesMCCAA Employees

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Women of Weatherization

Andrea Stanley

Andrea Stanley and Dannielle Scott are Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency’s “Women of Weatherization.” As Director of the program, Andrea oversees the daily operations of the program, approves the applications, and approves the checks for each project. She also awards the contracting jobs to small businesses to conduct the weatherization. Dannielle conducts the day-to-day processing of the applications, including coordination with the contractors and ongoing communication with the customers.

Dannielle ScottDannielle Scott

As a part of WAP in TN, Andrea and Dannielle gather information for a radon study conducted by the University of IL. The study – scheduled to continue for the next three years - is seeking to determine the effects weatherization has on radon levels in homes. The study gathered information on WAP cases from May – December, 2017, and will start again in May, 2018. Andrea and Dannielle pick up the equipment, talk to the client about the work being performed, and present the customers with gift cards from the University of IL for participating. Hopefully, the study will help determine further benefits of weatherization and provide more insightful information regarding radon levels and how to reduce them.

Both Andrea and Dannielle agree the best part of their job is hearing customers express sincere gratitude over the wonderful ways MCCAA has been able to help them save money and improve their environments as a result of weatherization. Dannielle often receives phone calls or written notes of appreciation telling the agency how much their life has improved from the adjustments made to their homes.

Their most memorable customer was a family who was approved in 2015. The family had just purchased a new home when the father lost his job. They had four children, and the mother was pregnant with number five. When Andrea and Dannielle received their case, the family had no heat in their home because the HVAC had broken, and they were using space heaters in every room. The children were layered in clothing, yet they still woke up each morning with cold hands and faces.

MCCAA made a number of improvements to the home as a part of the weatherization project. They insulated the attic and ceilings. Since the master bedroom was located over an open garage, they installed a window heat pump in the master bedroom. Due to the large size of the house, they also installed two new HVAC units, sealed the floors and the duct work, and wrapped the hot water heater and pipes. In addition, they installed four smoke alarms, two carbon monoxide detectors, 2 ASHRAE fans, six cover plates on electrical outlets, and re-installed a new downspout and new plastic drain pipe.

Through WAP, this family acquired heat for their home, improved their living environment, and saved money monthly on energy bills. They received a desperately needed “hand-up” from MCCAA to help them during a very difficult time. Upon post-installation inspection, the mother went into labor.

“I’ll never forget them,” said Dannielle. “It has, by far, been the most rewarding part of my job to see this family receive the help they needed. They could not have done this for themselves.”

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Creating New Partnership for Community Change

Shanna and Ronda

Communications Specialist Ronda Martin and CSBG and LIHEAP Program Assistant Shanna Garrison have teamed with the Wilson County Homeless Coalition. The group is chaired by Debbie Pare’ of the Wilson County Senior Citizens Awareness Network (SCAN) and comprised of several ministries, non-profits, and interested participants, including County Mayor Randall Hutto, with the mission of addressing the growing homeless population in Wilson County. While in its beginning stage, the group hopes to bring together players within Wilson County who can assist in the prevention of homelessness and/or the move from homelessness to self-sustainability. By working together and creating a network of resources, we can help the neediest of our community to find hope for a better life.

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Taking Her Turn to Make a Difference

Tiffony Robinson

Meet Tiffony Robinson. She is beautiful, poised, very professional, and gracious. One would never imagine she was once a disadvantaged youth who stayed in trouble in middle school and was suspended from high school. Such character seems in stark contrast to the caring, disciplined, and highly successful young woman she is today. Obviously, something happened to cause such a drastic change in her life.

Something, indeed, did happen to Tiffony. A high school principal and a guidance counselor who cared stepped into her turbulent life to make a difference. They purposefully gave her an accountability structure that mentored her, counseled her, believed in her, and helped her dream and strive for something bigger. They gave her much needed emotional support while not letting her get away with anything. Because of their efforts, Tiffony graduated high school and entered Tennessee State University as an electrical engineering major.

During Tiffony’s sophomore year of college, she received a phone call that changed her direction in life even more. She learned her beloved high school counselor had died, and she immediately changed her major to education. She wanted to be able to impact others as this counselor had impacted her.

Today Tiffony works as a Family Service Coordinator in the Early Head Start Childcare Partnership for Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency’s Head Start Program in Rutherford County, TN. In her role, she supports the families of children served by the agency in Rutherford and Wilson Counties. In addition to providing services through Head Start and MCCAA, Tiffony serves families by referring them to other community resources to assist with needs that affect the entire family unit. If a family needs assistance, Tiffony helps them find it and sees her job much like that of a social worker.

One of her most memorable cases came to her shortly after she started her position with MCCAA Head Start. A grandmother saw children playing on the playground behind her building and came into the office to see if anyone could help her with the two grandchildren she had just inherited unexpectedly. She did not have appropriate housing, beds, support system, or money to care for them. On top of this, she had health issues she needed to address as she navigated through this time of forced transition. While she had physical custody of her grandchildren, she did not yet have legal custody of them and could not qualify for government assistance. She desperately needed help to get through the process, and Head Start became the support system she needed through Tiffony.

Tiffony connected this grandmother with many resources to equip and empower her to care for her grandchildren. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program through MCCAA helped her with energy bills. Community Helpers, a nonprofit agency in Rutherford County, gave her assistance with food and household items. A TennCare Advocate helped her with medical insurance. She enrolled the grandchildren in Head Start, where they quickly began thriving. The grandmother began attending the Head Start events, and she soon found a greatly needed physical and emotional support system to equip and empower her to raise her grandchildren

Now three years later, the grandchildren have graduated from the Head Start Program, but the grandmother still keeps in touch with Tiffony. They have all acclimated well from personal tragedy but recognize the important role Head Start, Tiffony, and the EHS-CCP team have played in the transition. Tiffony made a real difference in someone’s life, as others had made in hers.

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Community Partners Help Overcome Homelessness

Cheatham County Community Partners

A homeless woman came to Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency seeking help in November 2014. Having undergone emergency surgery, she had been out of work over a month and had lost her home and all of her belongings. Although she still had her car, she lived in fear of repossession. Her daughter, a middle school student, was failing and truant.

MCCAA Case Manager, Bobbie Greene, contacted community partners and churches for help, as well as the daughter’s school system. The community partner organization immediately went to work to help this homeless, single mother. The Parent Involvement Coordinator at the school intervened immediately to get the daughter back on track to academic success, helping her pass her courses for the semester. An apartment complex in the community partner organization had an opening, and MCCAA provided a rent deposit for the family. United Way and private donations covered the first month’s rent. Another community partner paid the electric deposit, while private donors contributed furniture, mattresses, and cleaning supplies. A local football team assisted with the move. Thankfully, a village was willing to take action to help one of their own who was struggling.

CM Bobbie GreeneCM Bobbie Greene

Although the woman’s car was eventually repossessed, Case Manager Greene helped her develop a budget to get it back. The lender agreed to an aggressive payment plan to help her get caught up on payments, and she picked up extra shifts at work to help make the payments on time. Her son and other volunteers took her to work while she was without transportation so she would not lose her job.

The daughter received Christmas gifts through a local charity known as Christmas Anonymous. MCCAA provided food and hygiene products from the food pantry to help during the holiday season. A partner organization also helped with food and clothes.

When the woman received her electric bill the following month, she was given the opportunity to apply for LIHEAP assistance but declined. “I don’t need it now,” she stated. By staying on her budget, she was able to pay all of her current bills and move forward from her sudden health and financial set-back. Her move from homelessness to self-sufficiency could not have happened without the help of MCCAA and many partners within her community. Together, this community provided a family the hand-up they needed to overcome homelessness and the effects of extended poverty.

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