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County salutes community action for helping residents in need<br><br> <br><br>

| Sunday, May 13, 2001

Since 1965, the Indiana County Community Action Program has been providing a range of services to those who often have nowhere else to turn.

Last week, county comissioners paid tribute to the private, nonprofit service agency along with other community action groups throughout the United States by declaring May as National Community Action Month.

Based at the county courthouse annex at 827 Water St. in Indiana, ICCAP and its 43-member staff offers nearly 20 services to income-eligible residents, said Sandi Dill, executive director.

Services include counseling for first-time homebuyers, temporary financial aid to those having trouble making rent or mortgage payments and low-cost housing.

The agency also operates a homeless shelter in Black Lick and a long-term transitional shelter in the Coral-Graceton area.

In addition, ICCAP helps mental-health consumers and others receiving Social Security benefits to manage their finances and offers a family savings account program for home repairs and purchases, business startups and educational pursuits.

The agency also offers a number of energy assistance programs designed to help clients who need help paying utilities or insulating their homes.

About two years ago, ICCAP began administering a statewide pilot program designed to help former welfare recipients find transportation to and from work.

Services offered through the program include bus tickets, after-hours van transportation, car maintenance workshops, driver training, AAA memberships, car repairs, transfer fees for donated cars and gasoline vouchers.

ICCAP also offers assistance to those who need transportation to and from medical appointments and provides information and referral services, job skills training and case management.

For years, the agency has operated the county's central food bank, which distributes food and personal care products to more than 20 volunteer-operated pantries. In recent years, the food bank has operated from a warehouse south of Indiana near the intersection of routes 422 and 954.

Dill said ICCAP is one of 43 community action agencies in the state and more than 1,000 nationwide.

Although it receives government funding, ICCAP could not operate without the support of local residents, she said.

'We're very pleased with the community support we've received over the years,' said Dill. 'We couldn't survive without the support of the community.'

To mark the observance, ICCAP will offer bus tours of its various facilities May 31, said Dill. Tours will be held 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and begin at the agency's food bank warehouse. Dill said those wanting to sign up for tours should call the agency at (724) 465-2657.

In a related matter, commissioners agreed to apply for nearly $150,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to enable ICCAP to make improvements at its headquarters and for some purchases.

Dill said the money would be used to upgrade the telephone and computer systems at the agency's main office and to replace one truck for the food bank program and possibly purchase an additional one.

In other business, commissioners awarded a contract of $11,800 to Don Huey Custom Building and Remodeling of Indiana to replace the roof of the courthouse annex building at 827 Water St.

The shingles for the new roof will have a 30-year warranty, said Bill Sink, county maintenance director. He added that the contract calls for a 10-year labor guarantee for repairs.

Sink said the Huey company submitted the only bid for the project and that the total figure was lower than expected.

Commissioners also called attention to the importance of water by designating last week as Water Week.

'Water is a basic and essential need of every living creature, and our health, comfort and standard of living depend on it,' read a proclamation. 'Water Week is a time to learn more about the source of every person's drinking water, the intricate process that brings it into our homes and the vital impact water has on our lives.'

The panel also recognized those that provide child care by declaring last Friday as Child Care Provider Appreciation Day in the county. 'Our future depends on the quality of the early childhood experiences provided to young children today,' read a proclamation. 'High quality early child care services represent a worthy committment to our children's future.'

The next regular commissioner's meeting will be held 10:30 a.m. May 23 in the second-floor conference room of the courthouse.

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