CACLV is, to say the least, a complicated organization. With a budget in excess of $25 million (counting the value of the food distributed by the Second Harvest Food Bank), programs such as the Sixth Street Shelter, Weatherization and Community Action Financial Services, subsidiaries like our lending unit, The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, our housing development unit, the Lehigh Valley Community Land Trust and our community development corporations in Allentown and Bethlehem, the administrative support we provide the counties for some of their activities and our community problem-solving and public policy advocacy work, few really understand it all.
It’s really frustrating. We get tons of press coverage and we do plenty of outreach, but we can’t seem to communicate effectively the breadth and depth of the impact we have, not just here in the Lehigh Valley, but statewide and even nationwide.
In The Morning Call today, there are two significant stories about good work being done in our community. One is a front-page story about splash parks. We do that. The other is a feature in the lifestyle section on a program in Easton that teaches kids about cooking and nutrition. We do that, too.
In the story about splash parks, the reporter does mention that Bethlehem has one in Yosko Park on the Southside. In partnership with the city, our CDC made that possible. We provided much of the funding through Southside Vision, our Neighborhood Partnership Program (funded, at the time, by Just Born, Lehigh Valley Health Network and PPL with tax credits from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development), and the city’s workers installed it. It is great to go by there at this time of year and watch the kids enjoy the spraying water, oblivious to who made it possible.
In the story about teaching kids how to cook with emphasis on nutrition, our Cooking Matters, part of the Second Harvest Food Bank, has been teaching kids, their parents and even their grandparents how to cook for several years. Hundreds of people each year have participated in the program.
I’m not complaining that the paper didn’t name us. But I am frustrated by how few people know the full extent of the difference we make every day. We are often out front, leading the way, but we often just play the organizing role with little attention.
So, almost anywhere you might be reading this the chances are pretty good that you will be very close to a difference we have made – a weatherized home, a business that got its funding from us, a family that has food on its table, a home we saved from foreclosure.
We thank the thousands of people who, as donors or volunteers, helped make it all possible. You, too, can help or benefit. Perhaps you already do and don’t know it.