Community Action officials speak at Rotary meeting

Jane Newkirk, the CEO of Clinton County Community Action, and Teresa Borden, the director of education at Community Action, recently spoke to The Wilmington Rotary Club, which meets at noon on Tuesdays at the Clinton Memorial Hospital meeting room.

Newkirk said the Clinton County Community Action, in operation since 1965, is a local, private, non-profit corporation funded largely by grants obtained from federal and state sources. The primary goal of their work is to reduce poverty in Clinton County. They work to do this through a variety of programs and services designed to produce jobs and help those in need.

Clinton County Community Action is governed by a board of 15 trustees.

Newkirk shared that they focus on individuals from 6 weeks old to death. They now operate a day care center that became available to them due to the COVID closures of many day care centers. They were set up to serve 6-week-olds through 6-year-olds and are evaluating their business model for day care centers. Additionally, they provide Senior Services such as exercise opportunities, socialization, transportation, home-delivered meals and more. They operate a Food Pantry, and those who need help can get it, although they will collect information such as proof of income and address to help track where they can be of the most help.

Plans going forward include Adopt-a-Senior for stockings the holidays, putting a head-start classroom in the senior center and opening an exercise room, among other things.

Beyond all of that – they operate six housing projects, help with utility payments and operate a weatherization program.

Borden said the Head Start program dates back to 1965, also, and is one of the original programs. They focus on children from birth to 5-years-old, with the goal being to help families to overcome poverty. They provide bus transportation, instruction and care during the school day and also have an extended program for children who need that. They have ordered three new busses with a grant they received last year. They are looking to expand the program as they have a wait list for enrollment. Volunteers are critical to their program.

Borden stated they are required to provide in-kind matches to receive the grants. That in-kind value can be met by volunteer time. The hour that is spent volunteering – reading to the children, playing with them on the playground, cutting out things for the teacher, and more – counts as if donating our hourly salary to Head Start. They have a reading program, a Hero program and a multitude of other volunteer opportunities.