Community Action Southwest Awarded $78,577 to Support Senior Volunteer Service
Pennsylvania, Greene County – Community Action Southwest announced today that it has received a Senior Corps RSVP grant of $78,577 from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support 88 RSVP volunteers serving in Greene County, Pennsylvania. The grant will expand Community Action Southwest’s presence in Greene County, which was previously unserved by a Senior Corps RSVP project.
“This award is a great opportunity for CAS to enhance the services to seniors in Greene County and we are excited to engage this population even more than before,” says CEO, Darlene Bigler.
The funds were awarded as part of a Senior Corps grant competition to expand RSVP to new geographic areas. Through Community Action Southwest, RSVP volunteers will package and distribute home delivered meals to homebound elderly; educate older adults about financial literacy; prepare taxes for senior citizens, low-income individuals and people with disabilities through the VITA tax assistance program; provide telephone reassurance to isolated seniors to ensure their well-being; and mentor children through intergenerational activities in Head Start classrooms.
Volunteers can sign up by contacting Community Action Southwest, Director of Senior Services, Stacy Stroman, at 724-852-2893 or by visiting our website at www.caswg.org.
Established in 1971, RSVP engages Americans age 55 and older in citizen service that addresses the nation’s most pressing challenges. While serving, RSVP volunteers also improve their own lives, staying active and healthy through service. A growing body of research points to mental and physical health benefits associated with volunteering, including lower mortality rates, increased strength and energy, decreased rates of depression, and fewer physical limitations.
In 2016, more than 208,000 Senior Corps RSVP volunteers served in communities across the country. Through community and faith-based organizations, RSVP volunteers served more than 300,000 veterans, mentored more than 78,000 children, and provided independent living services to more than 797,000 older adults.
According to the annual Volunteering and Civic Life in America report by CNCS, more than 21 million Americans 55+ contributed more than 3.3 billion hours of service in their communities. Based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour, their collective service provides a yearly economic benefit valued at $78 billion.
Community Action Southwest offers a myriad of programs and services including Early Childhood Services, Family Economic Success, Nutrition Services, Senior Services, Foster Care, Adoption and Child Welfare Services.
Senior Corps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering and service. CNCS engages millions of Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs and leads volunteer and civic engagement initiatives for the nation. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov.
Community Action Southwest to Offer Free Income Tax Assistance to Qualified Area Residents
Community Action Southwest (CAS) will offer free, basic, online income tax filing assistance to qualified working households in Washington & Greene Counties who earned less than $54,000 in 2016.
VITA sites will be open January 24, 2017 through April 5, 2017 in both counties. Appointments are available each week on Tuesdays from 3 to 8 p.m. in Waynesburg and on Wednesdays from 1 to 8 p.m. in Washington.
Appointments are required at both locations. In order to find out if a taxpayer qualifies for the program and/or to make an appointment, taxpayers must contact PA 2-1-1 Southwest by dialing 2-1-1 on their telephone. Representatives at PA 2-1-1 Southwest are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When taxpayers arrive for their scheduled appointments, they will need to bring the following documentation with them: valid photo identification, a social security card for every person on the tax return and all 2016 income documents. If the taxpayer would like to have their refund directly deposited into a bank account, they must bring their account information in the form of an official document from the bank with their routing and account numbers on it, such as a check.
Once again this year, CAS’ program will not be able to assist senior citizens who rely on social security and retirement pensions as they may be served through Tax Counseling for the Elderly sites.
Through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program last year, volunteers helped to file 523 income tax returns in Washington and Greene Counties resulting in $776,690 in refunds which were funneled back into the local economy.
CAS operates its VITA Program in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service and through funding from the United Way of Washington County and the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
VITA is part of the agency’s Community Action WORKS initiative designed to serve its clients in a comprehensive fashion. Addressing adult education, employability, skills, housing and asset development, while creating opportunities and providing support for economic independence is the framework in which client success is realized.
Community Action Southwest recognized as best agency by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
November 28th, 2016
Washington, PA – Community Action Southwest’s (CAS) Home Ownership Center was honored by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) as “Best Agency” at a recent awards luncheon held in Harrisburg. According to PHFA, the award acknowledges the effectiveness of the overall performance of the comprehensive housing counseling programs at CAS.
CAS offers free appointments with HUD-certified housing counselors trained to assist area residents of all household incomes with the credit repair and home buying process or the foreclosure prevention process in both Greene and Washington Counties.
For homebuyers, counselors work with residents to determine what they can afford, review their credit scores, determine how credit scores can be improved when needed, discuss options for down payment assistance and explore pre-qualification for suitable loan programs.
For existing homeowners, counselors work with residents to help them refinance when needed and to enroll them in programs designed to prevent foreclosures through the national Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Initiative.
Additionally, listings of local realtors, homebuilders, mortgage lenders and home insurers, as well as local housing programs including the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Washington are also available.
Community Action Southwest’s Home Ownership Center receives funding through Washington County’s Local Share Account, the United Way of Washington County, PNC Bank, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For additional information, please call 724.225.9550 ext. 421.
Community Action Southwest In Need of Tax Assistance Volunteers
Washington, PA—Community Action Southwest is currently seeking volunteers in Washington and Greene Counties for its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. The program provides low-to-moderate income households with free income tax filing services, protects them from predatory or expensive filing services and ensures they receive all tax credits for which they are eligible.
Volunteers are needed for various positions including greeting and screening taxpayers and preparing income tax returns on Wednesdays from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. in Washington and on Thursdays from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. in Waynesburg during income tax return season. Volunteers do not need prior experience in tax filing as they receive training and certification through the program. Individuals may volunteer as little as two hours each week and more if their schedule allows.
Last year, VITA Volunteers helped to file 523 income tax returns in Washington and Greene Counties resulting in $776,690 in refunds which were funneled back into the local economy.
VITA is part of the agency’s Community Action WORKS initiative designed to serve its clients in a comprehensive fashion. Addressing adult education, employability, housing and asset development, while creating opportunities and providing support for economic independence is the framework through which client success is realized.
Community Action Southwest Kicked Off Little Free Libraries Project with Ribbon Cutting
Washington, PA - This morning, Wed., Oct. 26, 2016, Community Action Southwest (CAS) hosted a ribbon cutting to launch its latest awareness project, Little Free Libraries. The ribbon cutting was held in front of a group of 30 people at 84 Lumber in Eighty Four, PA. 84 Lumber is the inaugural corporate Little Free Library supporter and sponsor of six libraries. Two locally-crafted Little Free Libraries were unveiled.
David Newell, who has played Mr. McFeely on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, was on hand to make a “speedy delivery” of books for the project. Mr. Newell entertained several children by reading and singing with them. “When you read, you’re imagining,” said Mr. McFeely, “It’s pretending of sorts!”
The Little Free Libraries campaign is an ongoing fundraising and literacy awareness project. Community leaders, corporations and CAS supporters are invited to sponsor a Little Free Library, which is an outdoor cabinet that provides easily accessible, free books to the community. Little Free Libraries will be placed near early childhood education centers, public housing communities, and lower income neighborhoods.
“Little Free Library users are encouraged to borrow books and donate books – new or used,” said Darlene J. Bigler, Community Action Southwest CEO. “In this way, we can provide books to children and adults, as a simple, effective and inexpensive way to promote language and literacy growth, and enhance education.”
Cathy Friend, Friend Aircare Co-Owner/CFO and Chairperson of CAS’ Little Free Library campaign; Becky Mancuso, 84 Lumber VP of Marketing & Public Relations; and Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan added their support to the project.
For each Inaugural Sponsorship, CAS will coordinate the construction of a Little Free Library using local manpower and ecofriendly resources. It will be installed in the community on the sponsor’s behalf, filled with books for children and adults of all ages and registered with LittleFreeLibraries.org. Each library will also be personalized with the sponsoring business’ logo or the name of someone the sponsor wishes to honor or memorialize. One sponsorship will enable CAS to construct, install, monitor and maintain the library for a full year. CAS plans to place at least 30 free libraries within the next year.
The community is invited to participate in this initiative to help increase children’s literacy and opportunities for their success. Volunteers are being recruited to help construct and install the Little Free Libraries, and may contact CAS at https://caswg.org/volunteer, or by calling 724/225-9550. Donations can be made by pressing the Donate Now! button on the agency’s website at https://caswg.org, or mailed to CAS, 150 W. Beau Street, Suite 304, Washington, PA, 15301. Community Members are encouraged to participate in the free community book exchange. As the Little Free Libraries are erected, announcements will be made on CAS’ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CASWG/
Community Action Southwest is a local non-profit organization that strengthens families and builds community. It is one of 43 community action agencies in PA and more than 1,100 nationwide, designated to implement strategies that alleviate poverty and help individuals and families reach and maintain self-sufficiency.