Wendy Carter worked for several years in human resources, but decided to leave that career to spend more time raising her three daughters. She doesn’t regret that decision, which happened just as her husband Allen’s work as a self-employed contractor plummeted during the recession. For the first time, Wendy and her family needed help.


“I never had to ask for help,” she says. Wendy turned to the Community Action Partnership of the Greater Dayton Area (CAP Dayton) for assistance. It started with payment assistance that kept the family’s utilities connected. Then Wendy decided to re-enter the workforce that she had not participated in for several years.

Through a CAP program called Work Pathways to Achieve Your Success (Work PAYS), Wendy received help and encouragement as she ventured into the job market for the first time in 10 years. The program helped her find appropriate business attire, provided postage so she could mail her applications and resumes, and “even found shoes in my size!”—not easy for the petite Ms. Carter.

Wendy’s program also included a component where she would work part-time in the CAP office. It was there that she met Deborah Ferguson, CCAP, the agency’s director of Outreach and Social Services. Deborah helped Wendy figure out what she wanted to do in her life.

“Debbie changed my life,” Wendy says. “She asked me, ‘Where have you been? Where are you now? Where do you want to be?’

 “When I came to the agency I had just started to endeavor out into the workplace again after 10 years. It was an uncomfortable time in my life and I was rusty!  As I regained my confidence and ‘oiled my gears’ volunteering within the agency, my love of community service began,” Wendy commented. “Community Action Partnership has a worth that is invaluable to our community! I deeply wanted to join in the mission to help people and change lives as I was helped.”  Wendy received several job offers, some from major corporations in the Dayton area, but she realized that where she wanted to be was working in Community Action, helping people and changing lives. The agency’s housing director had noticed Wendy and thought she would make a good housing counselor, and that’s where she’s been for the past five years.

Today, Wendy Carter is a Housing Counselor for the Community Action Partnership of the Greater Dayton Area. She helps homeowners avoid foreclosure through many refinancing strategies. She doggedly works with lenders on behalf of her customers, submitting forms, making follow-up calls, and working under tight deadlines to make sure her customers’ homes don’t go into foreclosure.

Wendy also makes sure her customers are providing the right information to their lenders and are not intimidated by the process. She encourages, counsels and sometimes pushes them to do what is necessary to help themselves.

“I love helping people,” Wendy says. “I want to be on the front lines. Community Action changed my thinking and changed my life.

“I can relate to everything in the (Community Action) Promise,” says Wendy Carter. “The promise lives in me.” The words of that promise—“Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other”.

From customer to counselor, from needing help to providing it, Wendy Carter is a story of how Community Action programs truly help people and change lives.

For more information about Community Action programs in your area, visit www.oacaa.org. Note, not all Community Action Agencies offer these programs.

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