Community Action Southwest Changes Name
FOR MEDIA RELEASE CONTACT: Darlene Bigler
DATE: Friday, September 7, 2017 PHONE: 724/228-8125
Community Action Southwest Changes Name
Community Action Southwest has served and strengthened Washington and Greene county communities for the past 52 years. Originally known as Washington Greene Community Action Corporation, the organization adopted its current name in 1994. In 2014, CAS acquired Try-Again Homes, adding foster care and adoption, and youth and family services to its wide array of programs which include Early Head Start, Head Start, PA Pre-K Counts, WIC, senior services, adult education, job development, financial literacy, homeownership and others. The merger also expanded the organization’s service area to neighboring counties as well as parts of West Virginia. Today, the organization’s $21 million operating budget and 340 employees inspire 20,000 people each year to break barriers and build futures.
According to Darlene J. Bigler, CEO, “In recent years, our organization has expanded into new areas of service and geographic locations; we are rebranding to clarify those services and amplify our impact. We see this as an opportunity to increase awareness of our organization and services, and bridge the gap between who we are and who people think we are. Our new name, logo, and taglines will help us create a clear, compelling story.
The organization will now operate under the name Blueprints, symbolizing the role we play in the futures of the members of our community. With our help, our neighbors can establish a new master plan for their lives regardless of which program or service they need. Our new name affirms our organization as a helpful authority but also positions us as a resource that inspires people to help themselves. Our tagline, “break barriers – build futures” implies that we bridge divides and close gaps. Our secondary tagline, “powered by community action” acknowledges our proud legacy and helps us transition to our new name. Our new logo, a heart made of thumbprints, represents the human experience of co-designing life solutions with our clients.”
Blueprints offers a myriad of services and programs that appeal to multiple constituencies. We’ve identified common themes that unite our efforts, which will be used to capture and describe our work. Our services will be categorized as fitting into the pillars of mind, home, health and wallet.
Michael Chaido, President of the Board of Directors said “In the past, we joked that our elevator speech, a quick introduction to our agency, would require a 50 story building. Now we can share our elevator speech in thirty seconds. Blueprints is a change agency that shapes futures by equipping and educating people to improve their lives. Independence is gained when we break barriers and build futures.”
Bigler continued “Powered by community action, we serve our neighbors from cradle to grave. We co-design solutions that encourage self-made stability. Anyone can achieve a personal revolution with tools that power the mind, home, health and wallet.”
In the coming months, the organization will complete their rebranding campaign with new signage on their buildings in Washington and Greene counties, and Fairmont and Parkersburg in West Virginia. A new website is under development, and will be supported with printed materials about Blueprints and its services.
Chaido said “Our name and the way in which we tell our story is changing, but our mission remains the same. We are a catalyst that mobilizes the resources of the communities we serve to enable families and individuals to attain the skills, knowledge, motivations and opportunities to become self-sufficient.”
Blueprints invites you to follow their impact throughout our community at myblueprints.org.
Community Action Southwest Awarded $78,577 to Support Senior Volunteer Service
Pennsylvania, Greene County – Community Action Southwest announced today that it has received a Senior Corps RSVP grant of $78,577 from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support 88 RSVP volunteers serving in Greene County, Pennsylvania. The grant will expand Community Action Southwest’s presence in Greene County, which was previously unserved by a Senior Corps RSVP project.
“This award is a great opportunity for CAS to enhance the services to seniors in Greene County and we are excited to engage this population even more than before,” says CEO, Darlene Bigler.
The funds were awarded as part of a Senior Corps grant competition to expand RSVP to new geographic areas. Through Community Action Southwest, RSVP volunteers will package and distribute home delivered meals to homebound elderly; educate older adults about financial literacy; prepare taxes for senior citizens, low-income individuals and people with disabilities through the VITA tax assistance program; provide telephone reassurance to isolated seniors to ensure their well-being; and mentor children through intergenerational activities in Head Start classrooms.
Volunteers can sign up by contacting Community Action Southwest, Director of Senior Services, Stacy Stroman, at 724-852-2893 or by visiting our website at www.caswg.org.
Established in 1971, RSVP engages Americans age 55 and older in citizen service that addresses the nation’s most pressing challenges. While serving, RSVP volunteers also improve their own lives, staying active and healthy through service. A growing body of research points to mental and physical health benefits associated with volunteering, including lower mortality rates, increased strength and energy, decreased rates of depression, and fewer physical limitations.
In 2016, more than 208,000 Senior Corps RSVP volunteers served in communities across the country. Through community and faith-based organizations, RSVP volunteers served more than 300,000 veterans, mentored more than 78,000 children, and provided independent living services to more than 797,000 older adults.
According to the annual Volunteering and Civic Life in America report by CNCS, more than 21 million Americans 55+ contributed more than 3.3 billion hours of service in their communities. Based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour, their collective service provides a yearly economic benefit valued at $78 billion.
Community Action Southwest offers a myriad of programs and services including Early Childhood Services, Family Economic Success, Nutrition Services, Senior Services, Foster Care, Adoption and Child Welfare Services.
Senior Corps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering and service. CNCS engages millions of Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs and leads volunteer and civic engagement initiatives for the nation. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov.
Community Action Southwest to Offer Free Income Tax Assistance to Qualified Area Residents
Community Action Southwest (CAS) will offer free, basic, online income tax filing assistance to qualified working households in Washington & Greene Counties who earned less than $54,000 in 2016.
VITA sites will be open January 24, 2017 through April 5, 2017 in both counties. Appointments are available each week on Tuesdays from 3 to 8 p.m. in Waynesburg and on Wednesdays from 1 to 8 p.m. in Washington.
Appointments are required at both locations. In order to find out if a taxpayer qualifies for the program and/or to make an appointment, taxpayers must contact PA 2-1-1 Southwest by dialing 2-1-1 on their telephone. Representatives at PA 2-1-1 Southwest are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When taxpayers arrive for their scheduled appointments, they will need to bring the following documentation with them: valid photo identification, a social security card for every person on the tax return and all 2016 income documents. If the taxpayer would like to have their refund directly deposited into a bank account, they must bring their account information in the form of an official document from the bank with their routing and account numbers on it, such as a check.
Once again this year, CAS’ program will not be able to assist senior citizens who rely on social security and retirement pensions as they may be served through Tax Counseling for the Elderly sites.
Through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program last year, volunteers helped to file 523 income tax returns in Washington and Greene Counties resulting in $776,690 in refunds which were funneled back into the local economy.
CAS operates its VITA Program in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service and through funding from the United Way of Washington County and the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
VITA is part of the agency’s Community Action WORKS initiative designed to serve its clients in a comprehensive fashion. Addressing adult education, employability, skills, housing and asset development, while creating opportunities and providing support for economic independence is the framework in which client success is realized.
Community Action Southwest recognized as best agency by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
November 28th, 2016
Washington, PA – Community Action Southwest’s (CAS) Home Ownership Center was honored by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) as “Best Agency” at a recent awards luncheon held in Harrisburg. According to PHFA, the award acknowledges the effectiveness of the overall performance of the comprehensive housing counseling programs at CAS.
CAS offers free appointments with HUD-certified housing counselors trained to assist area residents of all household incomes with the credit repair and home buying process or the foreclosure prevention process in both Greene and Washington Counties.
For homebuyers, counselors work with residents to determine what they can afford, review their credit scores, determine how credit scores can be improved when needed, discuss options for down payment assistance and explore pre-qualification for suitable loan programs.
For existing homeowners, counselors work with residents to help them refinance when needed and to enroll them in programs designed to prevent foreclosures through the national Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Initiative.
Additionally, listings of local realtors, homebuilders, mortgage lenders and home insurers, as well as local housing programs including the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Washington are also available.
Community Action Southwest’s Home Ownership Center receives funding through Washington County’s Local Share Account, the United Way of Washington County, PNC Bank, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For additional information, please call 724.225.9550 ext. 421.
Community Action Southwest In Need of Tax Assistance Volunteers
Washington, PA—Community Action Southwest is currently seeking volunteers in Washington and Greene Counties for its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. The program provides low-to-moderate income households with free income tax filing services, protects them from predatory or expensive filing services and ensures they receive all tax credits for which they are eligible.
Volunteers are needed for various positions including greeting and screening taxpayers and preparing income tax returns on Wednesdays from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. in Washington and on Thursdays from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. in Waynesburg during income tax return season. Volunteers do not need prior experience in tax filing as they receive training and certification through the program. Individuals may volunteer as little as two hours each week and more if their schedule allows.
Last year, VITA Volunteers helped to file 523 income tax returns in Washington and Greene Counties resulting in $776,690 in refunds which were funneled back into the local economy.
VITA is part of the agency’s Community Action WORKS initiative designed to serve its clients in a comprehensive fashion. Addressing adult education, employability, housing and asset development, while creating opportunities and providing support for economic independence is the framework through which client success is realized.