The Community Action Network works to provide comprehensive services for low-income Ohioans to help overcome obstacles, provide opportunities to become self-reliant, and to alleviate poverty in communities. It is because of this mission and approach that our neighbors, not only here in Ohio but across the country, are meeting their goals and getting out of poverty. Ohio Heartland Community Action Commission (OHCAC) is one of 48 Ohio agencies—and one of over 1000 nationwide—that are helping people and changing lives.

Through the Fatherhood program, OHCAC connected a widowed father of three with the training and resources he needed to stabilize his family in the short-term, while working toward securing employment for long-term success.

After being out of the workforce for several years to care for his terminally ill wife, when John’s* wife passed away he needed to secure employment while also maintaining healthcare coverage for his three children. At the time, John’s kids were covered by Ohio’s Medicaid program for low-income families, and he feared losing that coverage when his income increased. John’s goal went beyond just getting a job—he had to get a job with health benefits that allowed him to truly care for his family and eliminate the need for Medicaid coverage.

The OHCAC staff started by exploring with John his talents and interests. They discussed his need to secure a job at a location close to his children, and they reviewed necessary and available training to meet his goals. John developed a resume and practiced his interviewing skills which helped him to secure a conditional offer of employment from the City of Marion. That conditional offer met the requirements of a Marion County JFS program which paid the full $8000 tuition to enroll at SSCC Truck Driving Academy. The Fatherhood program then paid the fee for his temporary permit necessary for the training.

OHCAC also determined John was eligible for the Emergency Food and Shelter program to pay one month’s rent, and through the agency’s partnerships, two additional months were paid. OHCAC also enrolled John in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) and the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) allowing him to focus on completing the 8-week CDL Class A and B licensing course. He even received a voucher from the local Goodwill where he was able to receive warm clothing and boots as he readied himself for employment.

Community Action knows that poverty is not caused or overcome by just one factor. In many cases, there are several obstacles standing in the way. That is why Community Action operates holistically to provide emergency programs to stabilize, a myriad of locally designed programs to meet individual long-term needs, and partners with local nonprofit and government organizations to fill in the gaps. Community Action creates the opportunities low-income families and individuals need to overcome whatever may be standing in their way.

John is now working full-time in a job that provides a living wage, health benefits for he and his children, and the stability necessary for him to continue strengthening his financial position.

*Name(s) changed to maintain confidentiality