LANSING, Mich., Jan. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following commentary is being issued by Kate White, Executive Director, Michigan Community Action Agency Association:
The 50th anniversary of the war on poverty is a time for reflection on the vision and values articulated when President Johnson created the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) in 1964. The war on poverty was more than a policy initiative. It was the expression of a fundamental American value—economic opportunity for all. Each of us relies on that value every day to make a living and to support our families. A keystone program of the OEO is Community Action, also known as Community Action Agencies.
The goal of Community Action is to encourage "maximum feasible participation" in local decisions. The empowerment of citizens with the tools and a seat at the table to play an active role in the design and administration of programs and services for their communities was and remains a key activity of Community Action Agencies nationwide. This philosophy promotes leadership, capacity building and flexible local control of resources. Americans resonate with the idea of local control of resources and the chance to share opinions to influence decisions and outcomes. The human infrastructure that we know as our Community Action Agencies is a key engine of progress that is actively improving our communities.
Community Action Agencies have made amazing strides in recognizing and incorporating the diversity of America and ensuring that federal programs are, in the words of President Lincoln, of the people, by the people and for the people. People of modest means, women, people of color, people with disabilities, and older adults are now integral to decision making and occupy positions of leadership and influence. With the help of Community Action, their roles will grow as we embark on the next 50 years.
Michigan's 29 Community Action Agencies respond to community needs and maximize public and private resources. Each Community Action Agency reflects the priorities of their community and plays a leading role in economic development, job training, housing, services to Veterans and older adults, early childhood education/HeadStart, the prevention of homelessness, and in ensuring food for the hungry. Community Action Agencies provide critical help for emergency needs like utility assistance and provide long term assistance like financial literacy training, budgeting and access to educational services. They also help low and moderate income families with programs like tax preparation, home ownership classes, and opportunities to make homes more efficient through weatherization and energy conservation.
Like the internet, Community Action Agencies provide ideas, information, and education. They motivate self-help, coordinate volunteerism and connect people to their communities. This year, take moment to get to know your Community Action Agency! To find yours visit http://www.mcaaa.org/resources/locator.
SOURCE Michigan Community Action Agency Association