Community Action Network Celebrates 58 Years of Service

Kaitlyn Marie, MailMax.com

May 2, 2022

Community Action Network Celebrates 58 Years of Service, 40 Years in Southwest Michigan

2022 marks the 58th year since the Community Action Network was established to help American families and communities overcome obstacles to poverty. Over 1000 agencies across the country are working every day to create opportunities and transform the lives of their neighbors making communities stronger and helping families across the US thrive. This year, Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency (SMCAA), a proud member of the Community Action Network, will also commemorate 40 years helping families throughout Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties.

“Each May, during Community Action Month, we reflect on the impact SMCAA and our network has had on families,” said Kim Smith Oldham, Executive Director of SMCAA. “Last year alone, we served 4,995 unduplicated individuals in Southwest Michigan, and over 15 million across the country with immediately needed services such as shelter and food, and also long-term solutions like education and job placement.”

Community Action Agencies serve 99% of all American counties with life-changing services to help families achieve financial stability. All agencies are locally controlled and represented by the private, public, and low-income sectors of the community. “We are proud of our communities’ participation in the development and oversight of our programs,” said Smith Oldham. “Their engagement helps us to be more effective in our approach by determining what the vulnerable populations in Southwest Michigan need.”

Despite experiencing budget cuts, shrinking resources, and increased demands for services during these challenging economic times, SMCAA has been remarkably successful assisting the low-income families and individuals of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties to achieve and maintain economic security. As Smith Oldham attests, “Our staff is committed to the community we serve because it is right, it is wise, and, in our hearts and minds, we truly believe it is possible to conquer poverty. We are Community Action Strong.”

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Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency is a member of the National Community Action Partnership and the Community Action Network, which was born out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.

SMCAA is a private, non-profit Community Action Agency - part of a state and national network. There are 28 Community Action agencies in Michigan and nearly 1,000 across the country. The agency started servicing Van Buren County in 1982. Four years later the agency incorporated and began providing human services to both Cass and Van Buren Counties. In 1992, the service delivery area officially added Berrien County, and created the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency.

Over the past 40 years, SMCAA has continued the journey spearheaded by President Johnson by administering federal, state, and local contracts developed to respond to the needs of individuals and families residing in the tri-county area.

Today, SMCAA brings together federal and state grant funds and donated dollars from local, private, and public sources. Our core funding is the U.S. Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), and we must fulfill a number of Organizational Standards in order to meet funding requirements. This funding and additional grants or donations are directed into a number of core and special programs and services that aid the low income, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged individuals and households residing in Southwest Michigan.

SMCAA is dedicated to empowering diverse people in need and supporting their journey towards economic security. Our Vision is to be a beacon of support in a strong, thriving community by helping people and changing lives.

​In order to accomplish our mission and reach our vision, SMCAA establishes, coordinates, and carries out programs to promote the health, education, and welfare of low-income individuals and families across the tri-county area. Learn more about SMCAA at www.smcaa.com.