Community Action Partnership of the Greater Dayton Area (CAP) received two Best Practices in Community Action Awards from the state Community Action Association and its partners. The HOPE Café Program in Greene County and the Foreclosure Prevention Program in Montgomery County were recognized.
The two programs were among 11 programs at eight different Community Action Agencies recognized by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies (OACAA) and the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. The presentations occurred during OACAA’s 2011 Winter Legislative Conference.
The Best Practices Awards honor innovative and effective Community Action Agency programs that meet the needs of clients, families and communities by helping low-income people become more self-sufficient. The awards are a showcase for unique Community Action Agency efforts that make a measurable and life-changing difference.
In Greene County, the HOPE (Helping Others Prepare for Employment) Café offers paid training and apprenticeships in catering, food service and meal preparation to homeless adults participating in a Greene County transitional housing or shelter program. Training is conducted at CAP’s commercial kitchen in Xenia.
In addition to training in culinary and catering skills, the program includes instruction and mentoring in interview skills, appropriate dress, interpersonal skills, customer relations, time management and financial management. Since the program began in September 2009, ten people became apprentices and six obtained full-time jobs.
The HOPE Café provides catering and a sit-down meal service. As a functioning restaurant and catering service, the HOPE Café is a unique environment for the apprentices. They interact with the community and are paid minimum wage. Though started with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, the HOPE Café generates its own revenue and is on a five-year plan to become self-supporting.
“Working with homeless people in our county from several different shelters has been a bit of a task,” said Gale Hutchinson, Greene County Director for the Community Action Partnership of the Greater Dayton Area. “One of the things that I’ve found through this program is that if you meet people where they are and allow them to walk with you, that makes them much more open to learning and taking what they’ve learned on to help them as they travel down the road to self-sufficiency.”
Community Action Partnership began its Foreclosure Prevention Program in 2007 in response to high foreclosure filing rates in Dayton and Montgomery County. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development certifies CAP as an Approved Housing Counseling Agency.
The Foreclosure Prevention Program has served 1,400 low-income homeowners and has a 75 percent success rate in curing homeowners’ foreclosure crises. By preventing foreclosures and blight, homeowners are now more directly involved in the community and their particular neighborhood.
(Pictured is The Community Action Partnership HOPE Café Program received a Best Practices in Community Action Award. Staff members receiving the award in Columbus are (L-R): Donna Dover, Dietrich Gray, Gale Hutchinson and Bonni Owens)