Who Are Senior Programs Volunteers?

The Senior Programs of Community Action Partnership of North Alabama (The Partnership) is the heart and soul of senior volunteering in a small three-county area (Cullman, Lawrence, and Morgan counties).

Services provided by The Partnership’s Senior Programs include Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions, which are both Senior Corp programs of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

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The CNCS defines Foster Grandparents as role models, mentors, and friends to children with exceptional needs. The Foster Grandparent program provides a way for volunteers age 55 and over to stay active by serving children and youth in their communities.

Senior Companions provide assistance and friendship to older adults who have difficulty with daily living tasks, such as shopping or paying bills. They help these adults remain independent in their homes instead of having to move to more costly institutional care. Senior Companions also offset the responsibilities that typically fall on family members or professional caregivers.

Income-eligible Senior Program volunteers receive a small tax-free stipend for their contributions, which helps to supplement their fixed incomes.  And all volunteers receive reimbursement for their mileage to offset any out-of-pocket travel expenses.

Those interested in becoming a Foster Grandparent or Senior Companion may apply on our website here.

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Weatherization Day 2018 Brings the Lottery to Alabama

The state of Alabama does not have a lottery.  But do not tell that to Decatur resident Dora Tucker.  On October 30, 2018, the home of Dora Tucker was the site of Community Action Partnership of North Alabama’s (The Partnership) Weatherization Day 2018 event.

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After being on The Partnership’s weatherization waiting list for eight years, Ms. Tucker’s home was selected for weatherization measures in October.  Ms. Tucker has lived in her current home for more than 11 years.  But as time passed, she has been less able to meet the demands of the home, which formerly belonged to a local judge.  With grant funds provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, Mrs. Tucker’s home received the upgrades it needed such as attic insulation, weather stripping, fireplace maintenance, and other energy-saving measures.

Although Ms. Tucker has yet to receive a utility bill that truly demonstrates the difference the weatherization measures will make, she is confident she will be better off this year than last.  “Last year I received a $700 light bill and I thought it was going to break me,” Ms. Tucker told Partnership staff.  “I have a bill but I’m scared to open it.”

In addition to the weatherization measures performed on Ms. Tucker’s home, The Partnership sent a team of volunteers to revitalize the outside of the home.  Basic outdoor maintenance was performed including trimming trees, pruning shrubs, planting flowers, and adding mulch that Ms. Tucker had been unable to do herself.  “Somebody stole everything I had.  I went away on vacation and when I came back, everything was gone.  The lawnmower, tools, everything.”  Director of Homeownership said of the external work, “In many cases since the home has gone without weatherization, the landscaping, the lawn, the exterior ends up being in need as well.  So we hop in for one day with a nice crew.  We have a great team and we get it all done in a day.”

Energy Director Angela Ingram recapped the day by saying, “When Ms. Dora came out today, she looked around and she said, ‘You know, I feel rich.'”  Alabama does not have a lottery, but don’t tell that to Dora Tucker.  “I feel like I won the lottery, big lottery, and I appreciate them for coming out giving me a hand.”  Now, after waiting eight years, Dora Tucker is a winner thanks to the Weatherization Assistance Program.

 

3 Memorable Lessons Learned From In-Service 2018

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Each year The Partnership’s employees gather together for an all-staff in-service meeting.  It is a time of reconnection and reflection and allows those in attendance to see old friends and make new friends.

This year’s in-service event was to be the last of the career of retiring Chief Executive Officer Michael Tubbs.  It was also to be the first of the career of incoming CEO Tim Thrasher.  And in between the enthusiastic introduction of Tim and the emotional farewell of Mike came some memorable lessons for all staff.

The event’s keynote speaker was Alabama Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh.  With many years of public service under her belt, Twinkle brought a familiar and personal perspective to the audience.  She shared the perspectives on giving by Sir Winston Churchill, actor Denzel Washington, and Jesus.  More importantly, Twinkle reminded the room filled with early childhood educators and non-profit leaders that the harvest is not realized before it is planted.  Through personal stories passed on from her father, Twinkle painted a picture of harvest using apple seeds.  Once an apple is cut open, the seeds may be counted.  However, there is no way to know how many apples will come from each of those counted seeds.  She commended each and every audience member for their individual work that addressed the causes and consequences of poverty.  She concluded with her lesson that, “The fact that you helped someone at a young age, that is your harvest.”

Retiring CEO Michael Tubbs addressed the audience from the floor, walking among attendees and sharing his insight into the value of results no matter how large or small.  “Results at the end of the day is how we measure how good we are.”  Mike continued to commend the progress made throughout The Partnership throughout his more than 13 years as its CEO and concluded with a simple thought: “We have to know our work.  We have to know what matters for our families.  And sometimes modest results are enough.”  With the charge to continue the already good work at The Partnership, Mike closed to a standing ovation.

The end of the day saw Tim Thrasher introduce his expectations for Leading the Way and the challenges for continuing The Partnership’s mission.  Sharing leadership behaviors from his own mentors, Tim provided stories from his past experiences that have helped him to develop his own leadership point of view.  Among those who influenced him was his late father, Bill Thrasher, a doctorate-level educator who simply taught Tim to “be a positive example with visible, memorable behaviors.”

 

Is One Day of Caring Enough?

“Is one Day of Caring enough?”  The answer is, quite simply, no.  And because the answer is ‘no’….

The annual United Way of Morgan County Day of Caring has come and gone and with it brings the question, “Is one Day of Caring enough?”  The answer is, quite simply, no.  And because the answer is ‘no’, Community Action Partnership of North Alabama is committed to reducing or eliminating the causes and consequences of poverty for families and communities 365 days a year.

Each year The Partnership joins hundreds of other volunteers across Morgan County (AL) on the Day of Caring to help serve non-profits in their community.  From painting the walls of the local free clinic to performing outdoor maintenance at an outreach center, volunteers help fill the gaps that non-profits experience with limited funds and staffing.  The event kicks off the annual United Way of Morgan County (UWMCAL) fundraising campaign that will provide desperately needing funding for non-profits across Morgan County.

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This year, The Partnership’s Director of Senior Programs Tamisha Sales organized a Read-A-Thon at a local elementary school.  The purpose of the project was to bring awareness to the importance of literacy and the impact of volunteering.  Volunteers from Decatur Police Department joined Partnership staff and read to nearly 400 students in first-, second-, and third-grade classrooms.

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The Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) is just one of many local non-profit programs that receive funding from United Way of Morgan County.  Through the FGP, local seniors serve in area schools to provide support for students in need of extra academic or social/emotional help.

Other Partnership programs receiving United Way funding are the Senior Companion Program and Meals on Wheels & More (MOW&M).  Unlike other Meals on Wheels programs across the country, The Partnership’s MOW&M program received no federal funding.  Therefore, funds provided by UWMCAL are vital to its existence and ability to serve local elderly and disabled residents in Morgan County.

The 2018 Day of Caring extended beyond the Read-A-Thon by soliciting personal care product donations.  Director of Community Services Cindy Anderson delivered a box of hundreds of products to Director of Ministries Denise Jones of Tennessee Valley Outreach for their customers in need.

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The 2018 United Way Day of Caring is in the books and the fundraising campaign has begun.  But the caring nature of The Partnership and the community continues.  For those in the non-profit world, every day is a day of caring.  It is in the DNA of non-profits across the country and world.  As a Community Action agency The Partnership subscribes to the Community Action Promise that states:

So, simply put, one day of caring is not enough.  And that is why we continue serving our communities along with strong partners like United Way of Morgan County each and every day.

Partnership Business Units Take a SWOT at Strategic Planning

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Housing Business Unit SWOT Analysis

In preparation for the upcoming agency-wide strategic planning session, Partnership business units met with consultant Shawn Howell in mid-September to identify strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities (SWOT) before diving into the overall planning phase of the process.

Leaders from Children’s Services, Meals on Wheels & More, the Housing Business Unit, and Senior Services brainstormed their respective units’ strengths and vulnerabilities to gauge what their next steps will be in planning for 2019-2020.

Lending individual points of view for each business unit’s session were retiring CEO Michael Tubbs and CEO-select Tim Thrasher.  Also in attendance for all sessions were Human Resources staff HR Director Alicia Higginbotham and HR Coordinator Sharalee Little, and Senior Executive Assistant to the CEO Allison Speegle, all with unique perspectives as long-time employees of The Partnership.

Formal Strategic Planning will conclude in late September with a cross-section of business unit staff and Board members.

 

NeighborWorks Week 2017 Triggers Plans for Pocket Park in SE Decatur

Southeast Decatur residents may soon benefit from the continuing efforts of The Partnership’s 2017 NeighborWorks Week street makeover with plans for a new pocket park on Enolam Boulevard.

During the 2017 NeighborWorks Week street makeover event, residents of Enolam Boulevard and neighboring streets expressed interest in converting a vacant corner lot into a small park.    The Partnership cleaned up the lot for the staging area of the NeighborWorks Week event last June and its potential was realized as a future location for some type of neighborhood green space.

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Coordinated through Partnership Community Engagement Specialist Amber Jones, contact was made with the City of Decatur.  Officials were asked about the possibility of converting the lot owned by the city into a pocket park for residents.  “A group of the residents came to me with the suggestion to build the pocket park,” Councilwoman Kristi Hill.

The pocket park is just one of many city improvements being considered for funding with the Community Development Block Grant funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Thanks to a 25% increase in the city’s federal grant money for low-income areas, the City of Decatur is able to increase or expand its funded projects for 2018.

 

NeighborWorks Week 2018 Continues Street Makeovers in SE Decatur

To have someone come and help you…it’s unexpected. If everyone could expect this, it’d be a different world. -SE Decatur resident Alonzo Villarreal 

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Each June NeighborWorks American and its local organizations mobilize volunteers, neighbors, friends, and national and local leaders in a weeklong celebration of neighborhood change and awareness that helps strengthen communities and celebrate our collective impact.  This year, NeighborWorks Week takes place from Saturday, June 2nd through Saturday, June 9th.

NeighborWorks Week 2018 Highlights SE Decatur on Tenth Avenue

Beginning Monday, June 4th, our annual NeighborWorks Week event will kick off in the East Decatur community on the 1900-2000 block of 10th Avenue SE.  Each day, volunteers and staff will descend on the work area with one goal in mind: leave 10th Street SE better than they found it.  As the population of the area ages and limited incomes affect homeowners’ abilities to maintain their yards, needs grow for basic landscaping.

Teams of volunteers will donate their time, sweat, and dollars to help trim trees and shrubs, mow lawns, paint homes, and perform minor repairs such as updating porch railings and mend soffits.

Resident Alonzo Villarreal said during NeighborWorks 2017, “To have someone come and help you…it’s unexpected. If everyone could expect this, it’d be a different world.”

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Partnership CEO Michael Tubbs builds a new sidewalk for a homeowner during NeighborWorks Week 2017 in East Decatur.  Click the image to see the results of the week of work.

This year marks the 5th year that The Partnership has focused its NeighborWorks Week efforts in the SE Decatur area through block and street makeovers.   And during the celebration event at the end of NeighborWorks Week, participating residents from the previous years’ events will be recognized with awards given for those who have continued to maintain their yards.

The event celebration for volunteers, partners, residents, and staff will take place on Friday, June 8th at 11 a.m. at the corner of 19th Avenue SE and 10th Street SE, on the event staging area lot.