Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency Wins National Award in New York – Leader Publications

Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency Wins National Award in New York

Posted at 11:32 am on Wednesday, September 7, 2022

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN – The National Community Action Partnership presented the Community Action Agency of Southwest Michigan with the Promise in Action Award at a gala in New York City on September 1, 2022.

SMCAA is a private, nonprofit organization that has served Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties since 1982. A little-known fact: SMCAA is part of a nationwide network of more than 1,000 community action agencies. Once a year, all of these organizations come together for a national convention organized by the National Community Action Partnership.

Last week, the NCAP National Convention took place in the heart of New York. The convention is designed to provide agency professionals and board members with the latest policy and program updates as well as management and governance tools. Particular emphasis is placed on effective strategies to transform communities and change the lives of Community Action clients. The week’s events culminated in an awards gala, which put the SMCAA in the spotlight for a few minutes.

At the gala, the SMCAA received the Promise in Action Award. This award recognizes community action agencies that have diligently cared for the wider community and remain dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other in the midst of disaster. These agencies work to build resilient communities that are not only more sustainable, but also transformative and just.

“NCAP believes that the SMCAA is the personification of this award,” said Denise Harlow, President and CEO of NCAP. “SMCAA has been integral to the continued growth and success of the Southwest Michigan community over the past 40 years. Prior to 2020, they served approximately 5,000 people, but in 2022 they served over 7,100. All of this work is done through a variety of programs and through the hard work and dedication of less than 25 employees. Some of their services include emergency utility assistance, rent or mortgage assistance, food and pantries, homeless family shelter, supportive housing, as well as the weatherization and rehabilitation of housing.

Harlow went on to read the key factors mentioned by the SMCAA Nominator that earned the Agency this award.

“In February 2018, SMCAA was the first on-site agency at Berrien Springs’ River Springs Estates following a devastating flood. Due to a failing dam and a cresting river, 32 homes were destroyed, 60 homes were destroyed. repairs and over 200 people were evacuated, the majority of whom were low-income families.The SMCAA set up a temporary office outside the park manager’s dining room to help residents move , to provide groceries, utility assistance and home repairs.