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Recession providing challenges to anti-poverty agency

Date: 11/4/2011

Nov. 2, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — Despite rumblings in Congress about severe budget cuts, Paul Bailey, the executive director of Springfield Partners for Community Action (SPCA), expressed confidence that community action programs (CAP) such as his will receive the federal funding they need to continue offering services.

SPCA is the official anti-poverty agency serving Springfield, and, like other CAPs, was facing severe cutbacks in federal funding. Bailey told Reminder Publications at the agency’s annual meeting last week that he was selected as one of two state delegates to attend a national meeting of CAP agencies in Florida recently and after that meeting he felt confident the agencies will receive the funding they need.

“I think things are OK,” Bailey said, but added, “There are more people to serve.”

With the on-going difficult economic atmosphere, Bailey said more organizations are vying for funding. What has helped SPCA is increased success in receiving grants.

“We’re gathering good information and using that information better in grants,” he said. “I think that’s what keeping us in the mix and will drive us in the future. Our development department has stepped up to the plate.”

He acknowledged that 2011 has been a tough year for the agency, which had to suspend working on its strategic plan to respond to those people affected by the tornado in June.

Besides helping to assist in the distribution of food and household items, the agency also raised more than $7,000, which will be used to purchase refrigerators for 10 tornado victims who lost their appliances.

This year, Bailey noted the agency’s most obvious achievement was its move to a new building.

Bailey said, “A Community Development Block Grant provided $50,000 in funding to renovate our heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. A $20,000 CSIP or Corridor Storefront Improvement Program grant helped with the new signs and windows downstairs. Many thanks again to DevelopSpringfield for helping us with those improvements.”

The agency presented 11 $1,000 scholarships, including the second annual Ray Hershel Honorary Scholarship Award, to residents working on continuing their educations.

Bailey said the priority of the agency is providing services to help people become employed for the first time or find a new job. He wants the agency to become an even stronger advocate for poverty issues.

The agency operates New Beginnings Day Care and Bailey said that early education is very important, as is nutrition. He noted that Synthia Scott-Mitchell, director of Community Services, was elected co-chair of the Springfield Food Policy Council, a citywide forum that advocates for improvements and public policy changes around food insecurity and food systems.

As part of the Council, SPCA organized the fourth annual Food Policy and Obesity Conference at the YMCA of Greater Springfield, which was attended by more than 400 people.

As part of the response to the recession, the agency established a partnership with Western New England University School of Law to provide interns to work at the SPCA eviction clinics to help keep people in their homes, Bailey noted.

Bailey said the agency would be conducting a fund-raiser on Nov. 19 at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Holyoke. A percentage of everything purchased there with a voucher that day will be donated to the New Beginnings childcare center.

Activities at the event include:

• 2 to 4 p.m. — Create your own holiday greeting card. Supplies provided; children and adults welcome.

• 2 to 4 p.m. — Vote for one’s favorite artwork among the entries from New Beginnings pre-school students.

• 2:30 p.m. — Story time with Lori Nickerson, director of New Beginnings.

Patrons can also support the agency by shopping online at from Nov. 19 through 24 and entering Book Fair ID#10523280 during checkout.

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