The following article was submitted to the Express Times and featured in their online Non-Profit Spotlight. It will be printed next Tuesday, May 31, so make sure to keep an eye out!

Community Action – Strengthening the Resolve of People to Succeed

Improve the quality of life in the LehighValley by building a community in which all people have access to economic opportunity, the ability to pursue that opportunity, and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. This is the mission that has kept Community Action at the frontlines in the battle against poverty for over 45 years, and makes us a vital resource during these difficult economic times.

Charity is a pretty simple concept. You can give away food and you can hand out clothing. You can give someone a place to sleep and an occasional warm meal. But how do you give away equal economic opportunity? How do you hand out social justice?

Everyone goes through tough times, and we do provide those critical services to help struggling residents meet their basic needs. The Second Harvest Food Bank provides food assistance to more than 60,000 people each month. That’s Community Action. Then there is the Sixth Street Shelter, an Allentown family shelter, and Safe Harbor Easton, the homeless shelter and drop-in center for single men and women. They, too, are Community Action.

However, if we were to succeed at our mission, it would mean that we are building a future in which these services will no longer need to exist. Community Action has long been on the cutting edge of community problem-solving efforts in the LehighValley, building community and economic development programs that aim to create wealth and encourage self-sufficiency. We empower our community members with the tools they need to improve their own situations, and we go after those who take advantage of the disadvantaged for their own personal gain.

We help to grow our local economy by assisting motivated potential business owners with the resources they need to become successful entrepreneurs through our Community Action Development Corporations in Allentown and Bethlehem. Hundreds of jobs have been created or saved by our Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, which has distributed over $2 million in loans to help local small businesses survive and thrive.

We were first responders to the mortgage foreclosure crisis and our Community Action Financial Services program helped hundreds of families stave off foreclosure. This program has also helped lower-income families buy their first homes with responsible financing to avoid future foreclosure and build financial assets. We fought unscrupulous lenders, broke up a fraud conspiracy in Allentown, and helped put three felons in jail.

We focus on neighborhood revitalization, job preparation, home weatherization, and education to build strong communities and encourage prosperity. And we are dedicated to responsible stewardship, doing it all with administrative costs at just 7.6% of our total budget.

Community Action is invested in Valley residents who are invested in themselves.  While eliminating poverty is a lofty goal, we have to believe it is possible if we are all in this fight together. If you share in our desire to better our communities, please join us.