MOCAP Executive Director, board members and staff presented at the July 7, Rotary Meeting at the Lake House Restaurant. Here is the article taken from the Muskegon Rotary in Motion newsletter:
Over the past year, a valuable resource in our community’s War on Poverty has been rebuilding from the ground up with a new staff and Board of Directors. Kiesha Guy, Executive Director, and Judge Greg Pittman, Chair of the Board of Directors, were with us at Rotary last week to share how MOCAP was brought back to life after nearly being closed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). A lack of focus on its core mission had caused DHHS to determine that MOCAP should be dismantled, with programs for Muskegon and Oceana to be administered from Ottawa County. Knowing that this approach would not be the best solution for our community, a group of concerned citizens, including Judge Pittman, came together to strategize a way to halt the process. They brought in Rotary Past President Brianna Scott to lead their legal efforts; her tenacity and dedication to helping this group led to a judge determining that MOCAP should be allowed to start over and refocus on their mission. A complete turnover in staff and the Board was a requirement, along with other terms set to get the organization back on track. A year later, they are well on their way to success.
MOCAP is one of 29 Community Action Agencies (CAA) in Michigan; there are 1,100 CAAs across the country helping 17 million low income Americans achieve economic security. The CAAs are part of the 1960’s War on Poverty – the nation’s effort to assist people in need. They provide direct assistance to clients and work in partnership with various community resources to help clients move towards self-sufficiency. In order to reduce poverty in the Muskegon and Oceana communities, MOCAP works to better focus available local, state, federal, and private resources to assist low-income individuals and families to acquire useful skills and knowledge, to gain access to new opportunities, and to achieve economic self-sufficiency. They help fill the gaps in our community, stepping in for services such as assistance with utility bills through the federal grant funding they have available. 65% of families served by the Community Services Block Grant that MOCAP administers live below 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Since March, MOCAP has helped 731 people in our community through their programs and by connecting people with additional resources.
MOCAP supports the working poor and those in poverty who are facing crisis, they sustain and honor the elderly, and they work to strengthen the whole family. In addition to emergency assistance programs for food and shelter, they also provide educational components like budgeting classes, credit counseling, homebuyer education, and healthy cooking/nutrition classes. MOCAP works with their clients on goal setting, seeking to provide wraparound services that help families and individuals become self-sufficient, offering more than just a “Band-Aid” approach.
As MOCAP works to get local control back a step at a time, Judge Pittman noted that they are committed to the vision and mission of the organization, making sound decisions based on that mission. The organization is accessible and accountable to both those who are overseeing their work and to the entire community. If you would like to visit MOCAP to learn more about their work, they are located at 1170 West Southern Ave; office hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
by Chris Burnaw