Community Action Partnership of Strafford County is a 501(c)(3) private nonprofit organization established under the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act of 1964 and established in Strafford County in May of 1965.
Published on December 20, 2023 | Impact, Programs
While we can hardly believe it, 2023 is approaching its end, and 2024 is rushing up to meet us. The year’s end is an important time, a moment to take stock of the year that was and reflect on our achievements, our relationships, and the future goals we are excited to start working on. We want to share some of the highlights from our year, and communicate our overwhelming joy at what we were able to accomplish. With the help of our superhero staff and leadership, the community, and other organizations that share our vision of eliminating poverty, we are enabled and empowered to facilitate meaningful change for at-risk individuals and families in Strafford County.
Let’s take a look at 2023!
Year after year, we have encountered hundreds of families and individuals who have viewed CAPSC in a narrow light, siloing us into an organization that offers fuel assistance to severely-at-risk individuals.
CAPSC has always been so much more.
In 2023, on the tails of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a major shift in our position.
One way we see this demonstrated is by the growth of our Family Resource Center. Post COVID, many families were, and still are, struggling to pull together the resources they needed for support with socialization and family connectedness to the community. The FRC expanded its operations to include the newly-opened Rochester location, a walk-in center that is open Monday – Friday. Word of the FRC continues to spread, and we average about 40 referrals per month either by email or walk in. When families refer other families, we know we are succeeding in providing services that are in need.
Another example of the shift in our community position is the traffic to our newly designed website (launched in October of 2022) combined with feedback from our program directors and outreach coordinators, revealing awareness and interest in more than one program at a time. This greater awareness and local presence has led to families understanding that they qualify for services that meet their needs not just for today, but also for their future and the future of their children; we are progressing towards our goal of uplifting the livelihoods of our community for the next generation.
“With being in the FRC, I want to have more confidence in myself and gain more control over the direction of my life.”
A third example of the shifting attitudes towards CAPSC was demonstrated by our housing program. With the end of the NHERAP (New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program) in October 2022, federal funding for rental subsidies disappeared. The families that relied on this assistance were faced with the threat of sudden lack of housing.
To mitigate the loss of this funding, we decided to use local outreach and bridge the perception gap between landlords and the population we serve. We managed to communicate directly with rental owners, amounting to over 900 landlords, and change their perspectives towards working families whose applications would normally be disregarded, based on harmful stereotypes. As a result, we were able to attain affordable housing for families who would otherwise be severely at risk for homelessness.
We share these examples as proof that the response to CAPSC has evolved both from the outside looking in and from the inside looking out. Instead of relying of CAPSC for one-time assistance, families recognize the long-term benefit of a partnership and growth for everyone involved. And the community is more than willing to work together in achieving common goals.
One of the most important factors in the success of a community action agency is the ability to work together across the public and private sectors. We recognized this concept even more as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the understanding that we can’t do it alone. We are so proud of our strong connectedness with other organizations in Strafford County who share our values and are willing to work together, increase outreach, and achieve better outcomes for more families.
Below are just some of the collaborations that took place in 2023:
Thanks to Bob Arnold, the weatherization program continues to be a major success. Administered by the New Hampshire Department of Energy, the program offers in-home services to increase the energy efficiency of the home, including insulation, heating system upgrades, window and door repairs, and appliance upgrades.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors Holiday Basket Program and MVSB Sponsored Donation Drive
During this heartwarming Thanksgiving campaign, four Strafford County nonprofits – Community Action Partnership of Strafford County, The Salvation Army of Rochester, SHARE Fund and Grace Community Church – partnered together to provide holiday meals to local individuals and families in need during Thanksgiving.
This cooperation led to more than double the number of holiday baskets going to families in need, jumping from an average of 400-450 baskets to over 1000!
In addition, Meredith Village Savings Bank stepped up to match donations from the donation drive. With this generous matching, we raised nearly $20,000!
CAPSC Early Head Start and Hope on Haven Hill
Via federal funding as part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)and led by CAPSC Child and Family Services Director and a mother herself, Tanisha Johnson, this program enjoyed its second year of implementing the principles of Early Head Start with the women and children whom HHH supports.
This powerful program provides a home-based curriculum to address developmental delays, depression screenings, and ensures that children are getting their necessary pediatric screenings, as well as socialization opportunities, where children can play in a social environment with peers and parents can learn from each other how to be with their child.
Goodwin Health and the CAPSC Drop-in Center
Open Monday through Friday, the CAPSC Drop-in Center in our Dover location provides a safe place to get essential supplies and services for living outdoors, as well as assistance towards gaining housing. We were able to augment our services to include basic healthcare for people who would otherwise have no healthcare whatsoever. Through a collaboration with Goodwin Health and the Families First Mobile Healthcare Van, folks have the chance to visit and speak with an registered nurse or nurse practitioner and get basic primary care such as first aid, wound care, diagnostic, prescriptions, and referrals to other providers and services. They can also help people apply for benefits, such as medicare/medicaid and SNAP benefits.
Community participants from the 2023 Neighbors Helping Neighbors Campaign.
The “new normal” in 2023 looked nothing like it did in 2020. Many of the programs from the COVID-19 pandemic are gone, but the infrastructure and impact of what happened still remain. We were able to adapt our programs and services and meet the needs of our families, and those adaptations remained.
When the world stayed home in 2020, so did we. However, we created new, digital pathways to replace paper trails or in-person applications, eventually (after some growing pains) resulting in more stream-lined, efficient processes that enable us to help more people more quickly. More importantly, the community adapted along with us, and we haven’t looked back!
” My experience with Marybeth Schofield (Weatherization Auditor) as truly been perfect. She has gone out of her way on many occasions to help me. (…) The Community Action Partnership has been a godsend to helping me especially in the both obtaining new for my worn out appliances, fixing plumbing and needed oil burner cleaning services. The world needs more people like her.
– CAPSC Weatherization Recipient
Continued focus on housing
As local rents continue to rise and rental inventory remains scarce, we will work hard to maintain the relationships we initiated with the landlords of Strafford County to keep rent increases within proportion to local salaries and the most common employment pathways. In addition, we continue to scout properties to acquire that can grow our capacity to serve low-income or at-risk populations. Our 2022 purchase of the Gafney Home in Rochester is an example of this mission, and in 2024 we look forward to reopening the property as a lifetime residential care facility for seniors.
You can expect CAPSC to change our services and outreach to become more accessible across digital platforms, while continuing to provide in-person service. Our website is continuously updated, and serves as an enormous community resource with FAQs, an events calendar and ways to enroll in programs quickly and easily.
We are excited to see what 2024 has in store, and look forward to seeing our staff and volunteers, our families, the community, and our sponsors and donors continue to come together to make Strafford County strong!
Founded in 1965, CAPSC is the sole provider in Strafford County to offer a full suite of programs and services designed to have a measurable impact on the health and welfare of at-risk children, seniors, and people experiencing low incomes.
Without the services provided by our agency, many local residents would be without a means to provide for their basic needs, including food, education, child care, utilities assistance, transportation, housing, emergency shelter and access to other services.
Read more here.
The agency is governed by a unique, tripartite Board of Directors, composed of elected officials, community leaders from the private and public sectors, and past or present clients. Many of CAPSC’s staff members have lived experience, and many have been past or current clients of CAPSC’s programs and services.
The unique blend of community-based leadership and staffing at CAPSC makes the agency distinctively qualified to provide programs and services to those in need in Strafford County.
Learn more here.