Bloomington organizations are working together to combat poverty in the area through the South Central Community Action Program and other organizations and communities.
South Central Community Action Program is an organization that helps with poverty in Bloomington through various programs. Each of its programs specializes in providing opportunities and security to individuals who might be experiencing poverty in different ways. These programs include the Head Start childcare service, Energy Assistance service, Weatherization service, Housing Choice Opportunities, Growing Opportunities and Thriving Connections.
Thriving Connections is a program within SCCAP that connects individuals experiencing poverty with a community of volunteers going through similar experiences, while providing more opportunities in personal growth, employment and education. When these individuals volunteer in Thriving Connections, it also helps them develop relationships with the organization moving forward.
“It’s a different approach where people are making meaningful connections and networking with other people whom they may not meet in their day-to-day lives,” Jessica Yeary, the director of communications & development at SCCAP, said.
The staff of Thriving Connections organizes projects while helping to build relationships in the community. Katie Hopkins, the community support coordinator for SCCAP and Thriving Connections, said she has been working with Thriving Connections for the past year.
“Thriving Connections gave me an instant connection to the community, to others who were going through similar challenges in life and ways to make friends and get involved in Bloomington,” Hopkins said. “I just came into this position at the beginning of this year, and for me, it’s a full circle moment being able to provide that experience for others.”
The Funding, Recruitment & Outreach Advisory Group is a program that works with Thriving Connections and SCCAP. It oversees fundraising, volunteer recruitment and creates awareness through project outreach.
The organization also helps Thriving Connections and SCCAP network with other local organizations with similar goals who are working on or might be interested in similar community efforts. This includes organizing fundraising events, reaching out to other groups, being active on social media and creating flyers for potential recruits. The group also researches and pursues potential grants for the groups involved in order to supply the necessary funds for their projects.
Recently, with the help of the FROAG, Thriving Connections was able to raise funds to help individuals struggling with poverty with the “Cliff Effect.” This happens when a person surpasses the income limit for government assistance but is still struggling with other finances and loses hundreds of dollars of support as a result. The organization established transportation funds, health funds, youth education and extracurricular funds for individuals who fall into this category. FROAG continues to help improve these funds through outreach and grant research.
“I think it’s great that these people are out there trying to make a difference for people who are struggling financially,” IU junior Michael Elsner said. “It’s also pretty cool that they’re helping these people make connections and build relationships.”
South Central Community Action Program is currently trying to rebuild their volunteer base after the COVID-19 pandemic. They can be reached at email@example.com.
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