The Salt Lake Community Action Program celebrated the 25th anniversary of the organization both locally and nationally with a week's end birthday party Friday.
CAPs were born in 1964 as part of the "war on poverty." Each year, the non-profit agency goes through a formal process to assess the needs of the poor, then tailors its efforts to meet those needs.Programs include operation of six emergency food pantries, housing and financial counseling, self-sufficiency, advocacy, employment services, Head Start programs for low-income preschoolers, housing rental outreach, year-round home weatherization services, and mortgage foreclosure intervention.
"What we don't do," said advocacy specialist Joe Duke-Rosati, "we can refer to those who can help. In Utah, we have a unique situation, in that there's great cooperation between advocacy groups. We're not competing, but complementing, so we do eliminate duplication of services. When something needs (to be) done, we all rally to do it."
The SLCAP has 6 satellite offices and a total of 71 employees. The executive director reports to a policy board that is divided equally among elected members from low-income communities, government interests and the private sector.
"We aren't always successful," said Sharon Abegglen, housing specialist. "We do really well with direct services. Policy change is harder. But we are having an impact.
"People don't always agree with our proposals, but they do seem to recognize that someone needs to be there to speak for families in poverty."
Duke-Rosati agreed. "Never in my 11 years as an advocate here have I encountered anyone who thinks we don't have the right to articulate the needs of the poor. People do listen, even if they don't agree."
How they've helped
-The Salt Lake Community Action Program served 32,573 households (112,142 individuals) from April 1, 1988, to March 31, 1989.
-In the past year, the agency served 100-150 clients a month in its community food and nutrition program.
-Since January, 589 clients have been sent on job referrals.
-Last year, 191 households (375 individuals) enrolled in homeless self-sufficiency case management.
-Special services were provided to 4,236 homeless households.
-Housing and financial counselors dealt with 1,782 clients on defaulted mortgages in the past year, and 802 received direct intervention counseling. Of those, 516 resolved their housing problems. Only 64 lost their homes to foreclosure.
-650 homes were weatherized.