Your voice can lead to change in poverty

My Board of Directors has requested that I submit press releases to the media to let the public know about all that we accomplish at Okanogan Community Action with the dollars that are granted to us by county, state and federal sources. While I encourage everyone who needs help to apply for everything from heating assistance to home weatherization to food stamps, or more — frankly, we’re in a bind if I “blow our horn” too loud.

We have recently received over $400,000 in funding to help repair homes of low income individuals. That is the good news. We make amazing changes in peoples’ homes and lives through this program. The bad news is that those dollars won’t make much of a dent in our two year waiting list of low income families – many of them senior citizens whose homes are in staggering need of repair and conservation measures.

More good news: We have begun our Low Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP) annual funding to help families pay their heating bills. We pay for power bills, propane, oil and wood heat for hundreds of families. This year we will give priority to senior citizens and families with young children. The bad news is that the president is threatening a veto of funding for this bill while at the same time expressing concern for how low income families will cope with increased oil heat costs in the winter. Funding has been reduced each year for this program for the last five years. Last year we did not have enough funding to meet the needs of over 200 families that needed help.

These are just two examples of our bind – never mind the fact that many federal programs are often under-funded when it comes to paying for the costs to deliver these services. It seems that some bureaucrats in Washington D.C. are focused on band-aids, doling out enough to keep the poor quiet, but not enough to help them become more successful in finding a path to prosperity. We need to do more. You can help.

Nov. 2 and 3, Community Action will host an opportunity for members of the community to bring us their concerns about poverty in the community. We want your input on what you see as the problems and potential solutions. Dinner will be served in Omak at the Presbyterian church from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and lunch will be served for the meeting in Twisp at the Senior Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We hope to continue this series in future months and encourage everyone to participate. Your voice will be heard. Your voice can lead to change from poverty to prosperity for the entire community.


Lael Duncan

Okanogan County Community Action Council