The Community Action Agency can help
In her five years at the Community Action Agency of Northeast Alabama, Taylor Yancey has sat across from single parents and families struggling to make ends meet with no relief in sight. Now the agency’s program director, she has also seen how far a helping hand can go.
“Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of support to get our clients back on their feet,” Yancey says. “We’re keeping families fed and in their homes, warm in the winter and cool during the summer. That’s just huge for this community.”
The nonprofit agency specializes in assisting low-income families with the cost of food, paying their water bills, and even covering rent. Last year, it was able to assist more than 10,000 individuals across Northeast Alabama. And for those having trouble keeping the lights on, they can also offer assistance with energy bills.
With the help of grants from the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Community Action Agency can provide free energy assistance to those who qualify. “For others who may be in a crisis situation where service disconnection is pending or has already happened, we can supply them with a month’s worth of assistance,” Yancey says.
North Alabama Electric Cooperative members who want to pitch in to help their neighbors can call the cooperative to make a donation as part of their monthly electric bills. That money will go directly to the Community Action Agency to help fellow NAEC members pay what they owe.
Many electric utilities across Northeast Alabama also partnered with TVA to make donations to the agency to provide additional relief in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. With that money added to the more than $1.3 million Yancey expects to receive as the state distributes funds from the CARES Act, the Community Action Agency is ready to assist anyone struggling to pay their bills as a result of the pandemic.
Yancey hopes the Community Action Agency can move from simply helping those in need financially to being a stepping stone to a better quality of life for those it assists. “We are dedicated to empowering individuals to become more self-sufficient and to break this cycle of poverty in our communities,” she says. “Whether it’s helping an elderly individual buy groceries and keep their house warm or helping a single father pay his rent and get back to work, that is what we strive to do here at Community Action.”